The Mentor's Mantra for achieving excellence in performance


Jonaki Mahajan
Asst. Professor
Auro University of Hospitality and Management


Excellence in performance is an attempt made by all irrespective of the profession they are in. Perfection is desired by a mentor who guides, a professor who teaches, an engineer who either designs or constructs and also a mother who nurtures. Constant progress along with the will to strive further and bring about more improvement leads to perfection. But however perfection is constantly evolving. What seems to be perfect now may not be perfect tomorrow.

The true meaning of education is not just the intellectual and moral nature that needs to be developed and cultivated: the whole evolutionary being with all its instruments maust by education become perfect. True education feeds the soul, until it is well enough developed to come forward.The whole nature must be built around the awakened centre, built anew, with nothing, physical or vital, mental or moral, sensational, emotional or aesthetic, neglected or forgotten.

This research paper focuses on teachers, mentors and parents who desire to become perfect gurus themselves so that their motivation and inspiration may accelerate the academic growth and personal excellence among their students, mentees or children respectively. The topics discussed hold relevance in every field of life. It could apply at home, in a business organization or a management B- School.

Ultimately one should try to create an organizational environment which leads to the integral development of the individual and the organization and the realization of their potentials. The development of the group is achieved by ensuring that whatever inner development the individual realizes in his consciousness is reflected in his outer life- in work, action and relationship, in the material, economic, social, political and cultural life of the organization. Thus each individual collectively contributes to the development of each other.

Leadership plays a critical role in institutionalizing human values.Values such as courage, progress, receptivity, aspiration,perseverance,gratitude,humility,sincerity,peace,equality,generosity,goodness. The first eight concerns the attitude towards the Divine, and the last four towards humanity.Any leader who does not live by these values will never be able to institutionalize this value system.Firms will have to critically look at leadership that it creates at the top.Selflessness, higher aims,ability to stand up for the values in life despite opposition, strong personal values systems compassion, are factors to look for in a leader.

The main objective of this research paper is to guide mentors and teachers and help them to become successful "gurus" and get what they expect from their students and mentees.

Key words: Positive Reinforcement, Locus of control, Path goal theory, Self efficacy, Self Realization, Integral Education, Spirituality.


The true teacher is a help and a guide, a stimulator, and he understands that nothing really can be taught. He does not impose, pour in or hammer into shape .He consults the child's own mind, helps him find his true nature and purpose of life. The teacher attempts less to train, that is coerce, than to bring out, bring forward. He shows the students how to develop his own instruments, and find knowledge for himself.

True teaching is very difficult as well as a very important thing, and perhaps the first requirement is that the teacher have an inexhaustible humility, and willingness himself to learn.  External Coercion is of no use and if a pupil is not a self-starter he must somehow be inspired or kindled.

One does not cease to be a student the moment one becomes a teacher. One does not cease to progress in spiritual life the moment one becomes a guru. A guru has also to progress, otherwise he stagnates and forfeits the trust placed on him by the disciple. The moment one becomes a teacher, it is not that he has just arrived. It is a fresh start, he opens a new page. He has much to learn. The first person from whom a teacher learns is from the student. It is the student who points out a lacuna in the teacher. Therefore as every teacher desires to bring about excellence in his students, even a guru/teacher himself should continuously sharpen his axe, by adding values and by getting into a continuous learning process.

What is the single most important factor in the transformation of the individual and the society? Without doubt, it is education.But as yet,it has still not been explored to its fullest and utmost potential,resulting only in a fractured image of what it actually means. To go beyond the obligatory demands from education,that is procurement of ajob or respectable standing in society, we need to take an Integral Approach, focusing towards the complete holistic growth of a student.

A teacher is a darsaka, who shows the way: there is a teacher who guides: one who instructs: one who makes himself available to answers when he is asked and so on. In modern life all things are mixed up, the totality presents itself at every step. On the teacher lies the responsibility to influence the growth of the student. His responsibility is not over in the classroom. It is only a peak period in the mental development. What about the moral development, the cultural, the physical development? Thus it is the teachers duty to give complete guidance to a student, spark an internal motivation to a student and help him to achieve excellence in his performance and become a economically,socially,ethically successful person in the society.



One of the simplest task that needs to be done is to create the belief in the mind of the student or mentee that he/she can definitely do the task. The task is realistic. Once the individual starts believing the belief of the mentor, goals become attainable within a time frame. One of the social learning theory states that an individual's belief that he/she will be able to perform a specific task on a given situation is important in learning. This belief is referred to as one's self-efficacy. When associates have high self-efficacy towards a particular task, they believe that they can perform that task well. People will not engage in desired behaviour or will perform poorly when they do not believe that they are able to accomplish the task at a satisfactory level. For example athletes are often trained to visualize themselves performing extremely well in order to increase their self-efficacy and consequently their performance.

But the challenge here is, we knew about the self-efficacy theory much earlier, but still were we able to correctly motivate our children, students, associates or mentees the way we wanted to?

Did we really help them to excel in their lives and accelerate their performance track records? Probably no or let's say an insignificant yes.

This is because we ourselves do not believe in that big dream that we want them to believe in.

How many of us truly believe that our children could win the race irrespective of the repeated failures, they have faced. The doubt and the fear of failures stops us from believing in our dreams 100%. Therefore the first mantra for a mentor is to feel deep within that you trust those who come to you for guidance. Your deep sense of trust,conviction and belief that your child, student (associates) would succeed is very essential. Trust in itself is contagious and passes on to our students who heighten their determination for excellence in order to match up to the teacher's trust. They learn to look at the world with a brand new vision – a vision that encases personal excellence, growth and victory. When the guiding gurus develop heightened expectation from their students/associates, it pushes their personal expectations, which in response to their personal heightened expectation of their own self pushes them to work harder to match up to a performance level which suits their personal self-image. Once performance is enhanced a person motivated to work harder to maintain his self-image. It means while he gets continuous encouragement and praises from his mentor who further boosts his desire to excel and finally he gets into the habit of flying high and breaking his own track records. He slowly converts himself into a consistent high performer.

A model of the self-fulfilling prophecy

Source: Robert Kreitner and Anglo Kinicki,

The above figure illustrates how supervisory expectations affect employee performance. As indicated high supervisory expectancy produces better leadership (arrow 1), which subsequently lead employees to develop higher self-expectations (arrow 2). Higher expectations motivate workers to exert themselves more (arrow 3), finally boosting performance (arrow 4), and supervisory expectancies (arrow 5). Successful performance also improves an employee's self-expectancy for achievement (arrow 6).

Specifically, managers need to do the following:

1. Recognise that everyone has the potential to increase his or her performance.
2. Instil confidence in oneself.
3. Set high performance goals.
4. Positively reinforce employees for a job well done.
5. Provide constructive feedback when necessary.
6. Help employees advance through the organisation.
7. Introduce new employees as if they have outstanding potential.
8. Become aware of one's personal prejudices and nonverbal messages that may discourage others.
9. Encourage employees to visualise the successful execution of tasks.
10. Help employee's master skills and tasks.

A lot depends on the mentor in the form of counsellor/guide/parents/teachers/bosses.


Praise is the second mantra. Counsellors and mentors needs to change their own focus. Catch people doing the right thing is the best way. Catch them correct and praise them instantly. Do not delay positive reinforcement. Sometimes it's wonderful to ignore negative habits, and praising all positive behaviours. Praise publically and criticize privately.

In fact there is no space for criticism anymore. It is all about feedback. Feedback only means positive constructive feedback for your betterment and future improvement. Sri Aurobindo once said that ," the first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught." As teachers we can only show the path by partly directions and by ourselves walking on the path of consciousness and righteousness.

But the challenge is, when you barely appreciate a person for the good work done by him and you immediately grab the opportunity to find flaws of a person in the name of constructive feedback, your feedbacks are taken as criticism unworthy of even pondering upon. Feedbacks of only those people are welcomed about whom we are sure that they care or those who are unbiased highly professional people who are masters in their own field.Therefore we want to give feedbacks and judge people's work either we learn to care and enjoy seeing other people grow or we become masters in our own fields. Care should be simply with the intention of care.

Good actions should be coupled with positive reinforcement in form of positive remarks, awards or incentives.

Motivational level of the students can be  maintained by giving achievable goals to students and giving them real awards publically, so that the whole process of positive behaviour and award winning becomes a reality for students and not a mere philosophy.

The expectancy theory holds that motivation is the product of a desire for an outcome (valence), the belief that effort will lead to performance (instrumentality) and the hope that performance will result in desired outcome (expectancy)

The path goal theory focuses, on how leaders might influence motivation by increasing the availability and attractiveness of rewards and by strengthening the expectancies that effort can result in performance and performance in rewards.

But of course a lot on the leader/mentors success also depends on the subordinate factors and the situational factors (workplace environment).


As teachers we need to handle the present generation very differently. We need to stop standardizing. We've got to allow the youngsters to cultivate original thoughts and good thoughts and reap creativity. Inner perfection and competition within might help. The divine mother spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo once said that,"to know is live is better, to be, that is perfect."As teachers the only thing we should teach is to achieve perfection and excellence in everything we do. Anything done with the intention of perfection automatically makes it beautiful. Anything beautiful attracts the soul of the universe towards it. Success simply follows. Transformation of the self is the seed to perfection.

"Let beauty be your constant ideal.
The beauty of the soul
The beauty of sentiments
The beauty of thoughts
The beauty of the action
The beauty in the work

So that nothing comes out of your hands which are not an expression of pure and harmonious beauty. And the divine help shall always be with you."- The Mother


As mentors we've got to help our associates befriend their thoughts. Observe their thoughts, become a witness to the quality and quantity of thoughts entering their mind. Mentors need to teach their students to learn to become "gate keepers" of their own thoughts. Selective permission should be given to thoughts to enter the mind. It is the duty of the mentor to teach their mentees to select healthy and nutritive thoughts for them. Help them to identify that they are different than their thoughts. Thoughts could be like a sudden beautiful butterfly entering through the window of our mind or it could be a buzzing bee creating unnecessary noise within.

In educational institutions a lot is being taught which is available to the students in books, or internet. But what does a youngster choose to read or see depends upon the taste of the thoughts normally liked by the mind. Therefore it is important to nurture the mind and teach the art of watching one's mind. This would help them to become masters and controllers of their mind. Once a person learns to control his mind, he would automatically learn to focus within stillness of mind would breed creativity and the mind would absorb positivity from the surrounding environment and would harvest perfectionism.

Desire to become perfect, instils self-motivation and personal drive to achieve higher goals in life. The passion to achieve success is like a fire which burns within. A mentor can not only help to rekindle the fire but also help the fire to glow forever. We need to become silent observers of our silent conversation.


Mentors must teach their students to live without limitations. Limits are physical boundaries but limitations are psychological barriers, such as feeling unworthy of material success or happiness. So, let's avoid judging ourselves and everybody around us against the fantasies presented by television commercials. Reality is that each one of us is the powerhouse of infinite abilities and capabilities way beyond our present day. The greatest limitations are those that we place on us. We need to focus in our own script, write our own dialogue and keep remembering the play never stops, no matter in what age and position we are in.

If we really need to get into the win-win situation, we need to learn to keep our locus of control internal and not external. That is a strong belief that I am the creator of my destiny. I am to blame for everything that's happening with me. If I win it's because of me and similarly if I lose it's alsobecause of me." Shivo ahum, shivo ahum" I am shiva ie I have the same soul consciousness as that of the divine father. I am the maker of my destiny. I am the creator myself. My aspirations to grow, my thoughts to unite with the divine i.e. to be a yogi ( he who is in constant connection with the divine) shall make me grow.  Normally we tend to give ourselves credits for our success and blame the world for our failures.

Failures are milestones on the way to success. Failures are not harmful but at the same time success is what I aim for. We need to learn to visualize ourselves achieving success and winning the race.


When perception of the physical world is limited to the five-sensory modality the basis of life becomes fear. Power to God control the environment and those within the environment appears to be essential. This need for physical dominance produces a competition that affects aspects of our lives. However, this is external power. Results of power get manifested as violence, destruction, greed. Money, fame, physical assets, education, social status is seen as source of external power. Zukav remarks that, "The perception of power as external splinters the psyche, whether it is the psyche of an individual, the community, the nation or the world. There is no difference between acute schizophrenia and a world at war. There is no difference between the agony of a splintered soul and the agony of a splintered nation."

 Gary Zukav(author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics", winner of the American Book Award For Science:" The Seat of The Soul) discusses the authentic power which is a power that loves life in every form it appears, power that does not judge what it encounters, a power that perceives meaningfulness and purpose in the smallest details upon the earth. This is authentic power. When we align our thoughts, emotions and action with the highest part of ourselves, we are filled with enthusiasm, purpose and meaning. Life is rich and full. We have no thoughts of bitterness. We have no memory of fear. We are joyously and intimately engaged with our world. This is experience of authentic Human Emotional System-Fear and Love Power. The human emotional spectrum can be broken into two basic elements: love and fear. Anger, resentment, vengeance are expressions of fear as are guilt, regret, embarrassment, shame and sorrow. These are lower frequency currents of energy. They produce feelings of depletion, weakness, inability to cope and exhaustion. The highest frequency current is love. It produces buoyancy, radiance, lightness and joy. Your intentions create the reality that you experience.

Love is of the soul. Fear is of the personality. The illusion of personality generated negative emotions as expressed above. When the personality is unconscious, every emotion of fear follows a fear and produces a negative behaviour that creates a negative karma for its soul. Behind fear is powerlessness. Negative behaviour will result in negative karma form another negative.


The greatest thing a person can do is to continually assess his or her performance and make continual improvements. A student expects to be led by examples and that a teacher needs to walk the talk. Being a dark burnt pot myself, I cannot dare to call the kettle black. I can try  to guide someone through a maze by sharing my own experience but I cannot try to change someone or expect that, that someone would do the same I did. I can neither change you nor the maze. I can only change myself. I must admit and accept that each person has their own journey. If I as a teacher become brilliantly lustrous through wisdom, a possibility could be that my students may rub off some brilliance by idolizing me and modelling my good (dynamic behaviour) to shape their own personal behaviour. It could probably help them to become better orators, a helpful person, and a responsible and socially ethical person. But if I try to change someone intentionally, he will rebel.

I need to take a closer and deeper look into my own ego based behaviour. A feeling of self-pity is also an ego-based behaviour. A feeling of sympathy for others is also an ego born behaviour. We all must remember we are all part of the same "atman" born out of the same spirit having the same consciousness.Arrogance is of course ego based behaviour but a feeling of self-sympathy for no reason, is no less an ego-centred behaviour. Giving undue importance to what the self-negatively thinks about itself is not necessary. I am neither useless nor indispensable in every sphere of my life but simultaneously the truth is, if I move away or vacate my chair it will not remain empty for long. "The king is dead, long live the king". Each person has a purpose in their life. As teachers our purpose should be to help our students grow as whole persons where they could grow physically, mentally, emotionally,intellectually and spiritually.

Therefore if I am sincere towards my workplace and home, I must delegate more powers. As a leader I must not create followers but rather create more leaders.

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Source: E-mail April 19, 2012


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