What is the value of a mentor?

How much we learn through observing and shadowing another individual is heavily underestimated. There is a great deal of evidence in various disciplines not only driving instruction that supports this theory. Emulating a mentor/teacher can form a large percentage of a learners subconscious learning.

It’s not surprising that we as trainers, coaches and mentors are naive as to our impact upon our learners. Often this naivety is just due to mentors being oblivious to the situation, we just aren’t aware of the impact we have, exhibited sometimes in the trainers misuse of his/her power.

I’m sure we have all heard the saying “do as I say, not as I do”, this is a tool trainers use to justify they’re own inadequate behaviours and shortcuts they take.

Whatever influence is underlying the trainers behaviour it does not change the amount of effect on the learners experience. Learning theories have suggested that up to 80% of learning is through observed/non verbal learning.

In my early days of learning to be a driving instructor I can say I learnt a great deal from my mentors and often remember them fondly when discussing certain situations that occur with my clients.

My relationship with mentors has been quite instrumental in how my career has evolved, importantly these are mentors after I qualified as an ADI. Because the need for a teacher/coach does not stop, it really is life long.

I was fortunate enough to meet some really insightful and knowledgeable individuals who were not shy in sharing their knowledge with me. Individuals such as John Farlam, Alan Esam, and Adrian Slater, each one added another dimension to my skills set through demonstrating a zeal for driver training and the standards they expected of others.

Our trainees become a reflection of us as trainers once qualified, and if we want our profession to be recognised as one of standing we have to exhibit behaviours that reinforce this ideal ourselves.

We as trainers have to behave and carry ourselves in ways that demonstrate this in a positive manner, such as paying attention to our appearance, dress code, and language that we use daily.

It used to make me laugh when people commented on my dress code and that I looked ‘smart’ because of my formal attire. I never viewed it as that, more that it was my version of a uniform, which upon wearing I am transported into in a professional mindset.

I have suggested this to over a thousand of the PDI’s and ADI’s that I have facilitated training for as an important part of cultivating their attitude towards their business. As well as other small tips to maintain a positive attitude towards their work.

Just because the majority of our work is 1:1 in a car setting doesn’t mean that our outlook should be any different to that of an office based business person, they wouldn’t have a dirty or cluttered office so why would we not feel the same about our offices, our cars.

I have trained in many cars that have left a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness, which does surprise me. Individuals must be ‘nose blind’ because their cars are inhabitable, I have seen some crazy things in clients cars which I won’t go into now as that’s a blog in itself!


Each of us in a teaching/training capacity needs to analyse ourselves in detail from our persona, to our teaching techniques. Whilst thinking about this we also need to think what kind of mentors have we connected to and why.

What was it about these inspirational people, that they were able to carry us along with them on the journey of learning?

It’s not all about knowledge because if it was, we would all be able to learn theory from text books. Who would need us instructors, clients could just pass their tests from studying. I’m sure we all know just how not true this statement is for it does not allow for many different learning needs neither does it support the acquisition of practical skills such as driving.

Most of us trainers strive to be the best mentors we can be, then it is only right that we spend time working on our knowledge and skills.

Who’s Yoda are you?


You fail because you dont believe.” Yoda

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