Who Are Your Mentors?
Here Are Mine

Shelley wanted to rally the Western world to aid the Greek cause. Finally, by January of 1822, Shelley had published Hellas, which is a lengthy poem about the virtues of the Greeks. The one line that everyone remembers from Hellas is, “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts, have their root in Greece.” While Shelley was attempting to rally the troops to defend Greece against the Turks, he was doing so fully aware that the Western world owed a great deal to the Greeks. The Greek thought process was the very basis of the Western thinking.

Interesting, I have talked about Shelley’s viewpoint in various classes that I have taught over the past two decades. One aspect to all of us being Greeks is something that is tied to Homer’s Odyssey. Odysseus must leave home to fight in the Trojan War, which meant that he had to leave Telemachus, his son, in the hands of Mentor. Mentor was entrusted by Odysseus to care for Telemachus in his absence.

Mentor instructing Telemachus

The name of Odysseus’ friend, Mentor, is the etymology of the English word, mentor. Mentors are trusted people that help the younger generation to become better informed and knowledgeable. Mentors help as in our journey through life.

Here are my mentors on a section of my webpage entitled Mentors and Me:

  • Brooks Oakford—hired me when I was 9 to work in his candy store
  • Louie Palmer—hired me as a teaching assistant while I was an undergraduate
  • Teddy Roosevelt—taught me to fight the good fight even if I failed
  • Joan Baez—the voice during the civil rights movements in America and Myanmar
  • Pete Seeger—another voice of hope even when the world was without hope
  • Bobby Kennedy—an example of leadership style and courage during troubled times
  • T. E. Lawrence—he didn't go with the flow, especially when dealing with racism
  • Carl Sagan—a genius in astrophysics that I could understand his message
  • Steve Biko—a black civil rights leader who taught white liberals about racism
  • Don Quixote—a dreamer who was willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause
  • William Forrester—taught anyone regardless of race about learning
  • Anne Perry--the best academic dean who taught me to think
  • Barack Obama—he taught me to set a goal and go after it without BS-ing
  • Steve Jobs—taught me to pursue goals and then to connect the dots
  • Aung San Suu Kyi—greatest female leader of human rights in the world
  • Randy Pausch—taught me the benefit of dancing with death...life
  • Elizabeth Warren—taught me about leadership

What were some of the common threads that each of my mentors provided for me during my life?

  1. Believe in myself.

  2. Dream dreams.

  3. Be honest.

  4. Stand up and be counted.

  5. Fight the good fight.

  6. Help others.

To be honest with you, I won’t ever become as great and respected as any of my mentors. Nonetheless, each of them, in their own unique way, assisted me in my journey down the yellow brick road of my life.

Now, the obvious question is who are your mentors? Do yourself a favor; take the time to jot down a dozen mentors. Who are those that have helped you define who you are or wish to become? With that question, I am becoming a mentor of yours for a moment in time. Write down the names of people to whom you look to for guidance.

Now, jot down next to their names what they provided for you as a mentor. How have they motivated you, or, as Lincoln said, who are those that helped you employ “the better angels of (y)our nature.”

Therein lies a critical issue. Your mentors, those to whom you look for directions in life, are your leaders. They wish to enable “the better angels of (y)our nature.” This is absolutely critical.

Now, there are leaders, negative ones, that wish to enable the lesser aspects of our nature. They wish to bring out our worst natures. Things like racism, sexism, me first, women being sex objects, etc. These are the negative parts of who we can become.

Choose wisely. We have a choice to make. Two presidents have spoken, which is your mentor.



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