Why Everyone Needs A Mentor In Their Corner

A mentor is a trusted and experienced advisor who provides guidance, support, and wisdom. This person serves as a role model and shares their knowledge and expertise to help you develop personally and professionally.

When you have a mentor, they’ll help you navigate challenges and opportunities, offering feedback and encouragement, and providing a safe space for you to explore your goals and aspirations.

The relationship between a mentor and mentee is built on mutual respect, trust, and a shared commitment to learning and growth. A mentor is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence in any area of life.

A Mentor Enables You To Succeed

Richard Branson is a larger-than-life personality, admired by many people in the business world. He is the founder of the iconic Virgin brand, and in South Africa, thousands flock daily to his gyms, and hundreds board his Virgin Atlantic flights to go abroad. How does one become like Richard Branson?

Nelson Mandela is one of the most prominent people of the 20th century. He is admired around the world for the values and leadership he displayed in his fight against apartheid. Stories of Madiba abound in leadership journals, and his name still echoes in the corridors of business and beyond. How does one become like Nelson Mandela?

One of my favourite movies as someone growing up in the 80s was The Karate Kid. This “feel-good” movie tells the story of a teenage boy named Daniel who gets bullied by all the macho boys. The movie ends with the one special attacking kick, where Daniel gets his revenge on the bullies, by becoming somebody and winning the local Karate competition. How does one become like Daniel LaRusso?

Why Everyone Needs A Mentor In Their Corner

What Does A Mentor Really Do For You?

When we examine the lives of people we admire, nestled in their character and habits, we find similar traits. For example, courage. 

Meaning and achievement always have a hard part, where one must push through fear, setbacks, and suffering. Likewise, those we admire tend to demonstrate a willingness for effort. Seldom is anything of value found or achieved, where the person in question does not demonstrate a willingness to push themselves to engage in effortful learning. Hard work most often is the friend of the achiever.

Can you think of anyone you admire who, in some form or another, displayed admirable qualities?

And what traits did the above mentioned mentors have? For The Karate Kid, it’s a bit of a giveaway: 

• Daniel had Mr. Miyagi. The old Japanese master who playfully taught him everything he knew. 

• Richard Branson had David Beavers. A friend of his parents who would meet a young Branson weekly to discuss commerce and entrepreneurship. 

• Nelson Mandela had the Regent. He credits his adopted Father for teaching him all his leadership lessons.

And we could carry on…

• Michael Phelps had Bob Bauman 

• Henry Ford had Thomas Edison

• Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs 

• Bill Gates had Warren Buffet 

• Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson 

• Cheryl Sandberg had Larry Summers

The Principle Is Simple.

To achieve, we need not only to develop virtues like discipline, tenacity, and excellence within ourselves. We also need, and possibly even more importantly, people in our lives who influence us, who share their stories with us.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell powerfully communicates how anyone who achieves phenomenal success does so because of factors like who is in your corner. Think about these two powerful quotes which probably sum up his book.

“The values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.”

“It’s impossible for someone who has achieved outlier success to look down and say that I did this all by myself. The outliers are products of history, of community, of opportunity, and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky. But all critical to making them who they are.”

The people we surround ourselves with have a profound impact on who we become, and we are products of the community. Invariably, there is a link between a person’s contribution and someone who influenced that person.

Why Everyone Needs A Mentor In Their Corner

The Impact Of Mentors Can Be Life changing

A landmark experiment began on the Island of Kauai in 1955, tracking the development of the 698 children born on the island that year until the age of 40. Over a third of the children were born into poverty or faced family discord, and two thirds developed learning disabilities and other behavioural problems. 

However, the research paid careful attention to one third of the group who grew up to be confident, competent, and caring despite these challenges. What accounted for their resilience? Genetics played a role, but social support made the difference. 

Children who were able to bond with a mature, nurturing, emotionally stable caregiver had an advantage, whether it was a parent, substitute parent, older sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle. As they got older, these children learned to rely on trusted community relationships such as teachers, pastors, neighbors, church members, or the parents of their friends. They recruited helpful adults outside of their own family. (Source: Vivek Murthy) 

It’s fascinating that these children only needed one person to show them love and care, becoming their mentor. 

A mentor is someone who shares their story, path, and most importantly, demonstrates care and connection.

In a world with so much knowledge, what we often need is someone who can make that knowledge practical and who is a living witness of what is possible.

The world can be a scary place. And perhaps what we need most is to receive and give stories of hope and practice. We should never walk alone.

Who do you need to invite into your corner, and whose corner should you be in?

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