Lessons Learnt from Learning a New Skill- Mentorship


rubik's cube

Photo Courtesy: Amazon.co.uk

I always wanted to know how to solve a Rubik’s cube. Watching my siblings and you-tube folks solve it so quickly made it look easy. I don’t know about you but one thing I have noticed with trying to learn a skill is that we tend to deceive ourselves that it would be an easy journey- may be it’s optimism or just sheer ignorance, but we do lie to ourselves a lot.

To learn a skill however we need to be brutally honest with ourselves. This means accepting that the task ahead of us would take time and commitment. It is never a walk in the park learning anything new.

The past few weeks have taught me that the learning experience doesn’t have to be so daunting or boring if the learner has a Mentor.

My mentor for this skill was my sister, she taught me how to solve the Rubik’s cube in 4 weeks. Just to be clear, it’s wasn’t easy. There are so many methods for solving a Rubik’s cube. She taught me using the Layer Method (you can learn about it here).

Her technique was different and unique because I didn’t have to memorise the algorithms, she turned each algorithm into a story, so all I had to do was to remember the story and off I fixed each layer of the cube (after several failed attempts).

Having a Mentor helps you learn a skill  a lot faster than you usually would because you are essentially walking in the footsteps of someone who has knowledge and experience in the skill you are about to learn. So you are made aware of potential pitfalls, so that when you do encounter them you can jump over each challenge

Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. 

Not every Mentor might be as effective as my sister but the words of Benjamin Franklin stand true. Your Mentor has to engage you in the skill and cannot just force his/her ideas on you without watching you try it out- that’s the only way you to learn!

A Mentor must be adaptable and ready to listen to your difficulties. I remember the first week I started out, my Mentor would give me a task and watch me twist and turn the cube just so she could point out my errors. This was so helpful because I was involved in this skill right from the start, hence, I learned each stage faster.

You might wonder, how can one choose a Mentor? Some people naturally have their mentors available to them-it could be their sibling (like in my case) or a parent, or a friend who wants to help them learn a skill. If we are to choose our Mentors however, it goes without saying that we want to go for people who are knowledgeable in that skill and know how to teach it.

We also need to choose Mentors that know us well. Solving the Rubik’s cube was fun and less stressful for me because my Mentor was a sibling who knew me well and knew I would learn the algorithms faster with stories. When choosing a Mentor, it is important to look  for Mentors who have similar personalities with us, or personalities that are relatable, that makes it easier to take on board their suggestions.

Learning a new skill is not always that simple especially when learning it alone via help guides or online tutorials, because the author of these resources may not always explain things in a way that would be easy for us to learn. However, with a well suited Mentor by our side we can learn our new skill in less time and find the learning experience more enjoyable.



‘I just can not believe he would do such a thing! I’m so angry…’ her voice trailed off. I had been eavesdropping for three minutes and I still did not know what made mum so mad. I knew it had something to do with Dad, it always did. She was talking with Grandma but I could only hear her voice. Grandma was soft spoken, even in regular conversations you had to read her lips to understand what she was saying. From where I was standing, on the landing I could only see Mum, the living room door was barely open. 

The phone rang suddenly.

‘Hello. Yes. Speaking. I would be right there’ Mum hung up. ‘That was the Police’ she said frantically. I could see mum pacing around the room likely looking for her hand bag. ‘Take care of Elsa for me.’ She said hurriedly, the front door shut loudly behind her.

I tip-toed back upstairs, but Grandma was already at the living room door trying to make sense of why I was walking funny. ‘What are you doing up at this time?’ She whispered.

‘I-I just wanted some water, good night Grandma.’ I started for the stairs again, running through them in twos.

‘Elsa darling, since you are up you might as well have some tea with your favourite Granny’ She said looking up at me.

I knew what ’tea’ meant and I did not want to be a part of this.

‘Err I don’t want tea.. you were right I should be asleep’

‘Nonsense my child, come come back down Elsa’ she motioned with her hands  ‘ I’m going to put the kettle on’.

Grandma seemed so small looking down at her from the top of the stairs. Something in her eyes made me scared of disobeying her quiet order.

I began the descent one step at a time. Grandma watched me patiently with a weird smile. She held her left hand toward me. When I reached the final step, I took her out stretched hand and looked into her eyes and that was the last thing I remembered.


I could hear the toads croaking and see the birds flying indistinctly from tree to tree. I could barely see, I was lying on dirt in my pyjamas under a tree. The sun was not out yet but the forest was awake. I searched around for Grandma, she was not with me. ‘Grandma’ I got on my feet, my head was spinning, it was difficult to focus. ‘Grandma’ I shouted this time. I looked up at the tree I was under and realised that I knew it, it was not far from the house. Getting my skewed bearing in check, I began walking in the general direction of the house. I could not understand what was I doing here, how did I get here? I soon noticed that the ground became really wet, and uncomfortable, I looked down and realised I was walking in mud. I panicked and I tried to run back to the tree but I could not see it. So I stopped. I considered the possibility that I was dreaming. I slapped myself and pinched my nose and closed my eyes, nothing seemed to wake me up. Suddenly, I saw the torch light. ‘Grand Ma?’ I whispered walking toward the light.  

‘Elsa, Elsa’ I could hear her old raspy voice. She pointed her torch at me. It felt like she was holding two torchlights. I used my elbows to block out the light. ‘Oh my goodness Elsa I thought I had lost you’ Grandma picked me up and gave me the tightest hug. Just then, I realised Mum was standing next to her, ‘Elsa you cannot just run away like that’ Mum yelled, she seemed upset and not as pleased to see me, something was wrong. ‘I did not run away Mum, Grandma… she brought me here, and, and…’ the more I explained the more I felt stupid, I could feel Mum’s burning stare on me. ‘What Elsa is trying to say is that she is sorry and would not behave like that again, would you Elsa?’ Grandma cut in. I looked back at Grandma. I could not understand what was happening, why was she lying like she was not the one who brought me to the forest, how did she get back to the house so quickly, how many minutes had I been knocked out?

‘Grandma why did you bring me here?’ I raised my voice at her and she just stared at me like I was crazy. ‘Let’s get you home Elsa, we would talk about this in the morning’ Mum said holding my arm tightly and pulling me away from Grandma.


I decided to try my hands on thriller. I have come to appreciate that it is hard to gauge fear. There are just too many questions a Writer has to ask, the most important I think is, ‘how lost do you want your reader to be?’ I usually enjoy leaving the end of my stories as open as possible- incase I want a sequel, or to elicit various interpretations from the reader. With ‘Grandma’ I am still undecided, I’ll leave it to you, would you want a sequel, were you confused? I’ll really appreciate your comments.

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