Mentors: Helping Us Follow Our Own Paths

Through life, we learn many things. We learn from many people, and we grow as individual members of a much greater society. Through our experiences, we gain great wisdom that we may use as we wish. Some keep their wisdom within, wasting its greatest use. Some people will share their wisdom with others offering guidance, and those greatest of all will teach others how to gain wisdom of their own.

I think it’s about time that I wrote about the last group of  people. I’ve had quite a few people help me during my years. These people I would refer to as mentors. They offer guidance more than just instruction. A mentor offers advice and direction instead of issuing commands from his or her own wisdom. Mentors help us grown as individuals. Earlier in the day of my writing this post, I ran into one of my mentors from when I was in high school. He was a teacher at the school, however, I never took a class of his. In fact, I don’t even recall how I met this specific mentor.

I know, thinking back on my own growth, that I received a lot of guidance from him. Not that he ever told me what to do, but I talked with him about my plans, my thoughts, and much more. Through his listening, questioning, and advising, I gained a great deal. I’ve had other mentors in my life. Many of them I’ve had more interaction with, but I still count this one among the most important in my life. He showed me a great many things. He taught me in many ways how to be a mentor to others, since he’s the only one I’ve had who hadn’t much connection to me. The others are those I’ve worked with or in whose classes I’ve learned in.

Thinking back on things, my greatest mentors still know me today. I think that speaks somewhat to their greatness as teachers. Remembering your students after many years is truly great. When I said “hello” to him earlier today, it was while we were each leaving a late night showing of The Hobbit. He was there with his kids, so we didn’t have time to talk. I was truly impressed that he not only recognized me, he remembered me, my name, and discussions we’d had in the past. Additionally, he remembered the name of the person I was with, my wife. Neither of us ever took his classes. He knows well the other students with whom I attended school as well. An impressive memory, and it’s clear if you talk to him, that he is a great teacher for it. When I was in school, the Lord of the Rings movies came out while I was in high school. That was one of his few remarks while we talked today.

I was emailing with one of my mentors from college recently, and I had the chance to talk with him about how I was doing. I am glad that I had that chance, because there is one thing I want to tell all of those who have helped guide me in my life, “I am doing well. Thank you for everything.” When I say that, I don’t mean financially doing well. My life is relatively stable, but most importantly, I am happy with my life. I have a wonderful wife, I have a fantastic home, I have a loving family, a love my job, am grateful for my coworkers, couldn’t ask for better friends, and am truly blessed. I have my mentors to thank both for my having those and also for my being able to realize that I have them.

Those who know me well, have heard me rant about the bad teachers I’ve had in my education. I’ve had my share of bad teachers, I’ve always used them as an opportunity to learn on my own, rather than following their guidance. I’ve also had my share of great teachers, and this post is my chance to make sure that people know that there are great people out there. They’ll help you, they’ll guide you in life. They’ll show you how you can help others in the same way they help you along the path. I only hope that I can offer similar guidance to those who cross my path in life.