For years, I dreamed of having a mentor in my life, a Yoda-like sage who teaches me how to fish. Not someone with connections who makes things easy for me, rather a person with wisdom and encouragement.
The harsh reality is that mentorship is about as rare these days as winning the Triple Crown. I’m not sure why: busyness, American Individualism, population growth? Nonetheless, as Seth Godin said in his blog today, “It’s customized, rare and expensive.”
This has troubled me for quite some time. Call my desire dependence, fear, weakness, I really don’t care – having a solid, inspiring mentor would be phenomenal. And I’m not necessarily talking about a successful filmmaker. I simply mean a person who understands life a lot more than me, someone mature, nonjudgmental and calm. Someone who can speak some truth into my life open-mindedly. Someone who challenges my perspective with grace.
Seth makes a great point: the lack of a mentor is no excuse for inaction when heroes abound online. We can hear them, read them and even watch them online. People like Jeff Bezos or Anne Jackson. Day in, day out, they set examples for us to emulate and be inspired.
Nonetheless, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss. Call me romantic, traditional, it doesn’t matter: I don’t want a hero; I want a mentor – a human being I can shake hands with and hug. A person whose coffee preferences I know. Heroes may change the world, but mentors change lives.
Seth concludes: “Like a custom made suit, a mentor is a fine thing to have if you can find or afford it. But for the rest of us, heroes will have to do.” Hmm, that’s sad…