The most important thing you can do as a mentor is plant ideas.

I’ve lived in East Africa for two years now. I don’t have a lot of resources, I’m still entirely self-funded in everything I do, and that means I can only do so much. Likewise, everyone else who ever finds themselves in a leadership role (regardless of the resources at your disposal) has the same opportunity. We either plant ideas of a better place, betters time moving forward through our actions; or we plant other ideas (perhaps of corruption, greed and arrogance as is often the case here).

Planting ideas, is powerful. In the movie Inception, the characters discuss how an idea is unstoppable, all-consuming, something the mind has a hard time resisting. Personally, I experience this every night. As an insomniac, there are some ideas that come to me in the middle of the night that prevent me from sleeping. They prevent me from shutting my eyes, from thinking about anything else until I act on them in some way. I’m too afraid to let them go, and I’m too afraid I’ll forget them when I wake up.

That’s how I respond, other people will react differently, but my point is ideas have the potential to be just that, all-consuming. And when they do, they tend to affect reality. This works in positive ways, it also works in negative ways.

As individuals. Social entrepreneurs, businessmen, bloggers, writers, aid workers, politicians, mentors, fathers, mothers…sometimes all we really have the power to do is to simply plant ideas. It’s the people around and after us who will realize them.

So in terms of your business, your social venture, your cause or whatever, remember that regardless of whether you succeed or fail, win or lose, the wake is what maters. Just be aware that the ideas you leave in others are every bit a reflection of your own.

“The seed that we planted in this man’s mind may change everything.”

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About the author: Jonathan Gosier is a UI designer, software developer and writer. He currently lives in Kampala, Uganda where he incubates and invests in East African entrepreneurs as the CEO of Appfrica Labs. He's also a TED Fellow.
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