Neka, an 11-month-old female German Wire-haired Pointer, stood still, eyes gazing straight. The summer heat could be felt in the green forest. An occasional call from a pheasant could be heard. She was looking at Chaska, an 8-year-old male German Short-haired Pointer, as he deftly and skilfully flushed the pheasants out for their guardian. They were on a hunt and she was learning from her mentor. After watching for several hunts, she started to learn to flush too. A bit clumsy to start with, Neka knew she could only improve in time. Chaska was an experienced hunting dog, there would be much to learn from him.
Who are the mentors in your life? Your immediate family is usually the first mentor of your life. They show you (intentionally or unintentionally) how to behave, how to think, mannerisms, and the breadth and depth of emotions among many other attributes. You are likely to be heavily influenced by the way they speak, think and act towards others and themselves. Your education begins with them. You do not have a choice in who your family is. You cannot choose your parents or your siblings.
As you have exposure to the outside world beyond your family, you may be influenced by other people like your older relatives, your friends, teachers and friends of your family. Your perceptions and references of what is possible, good or bad, seemingly moral and ethical and right or wrong will be moulded by these people. You may have consciously (or unconsciously) chosen them as role models or mentors.
We each have our unique journey in life to explore. Our life is indeed a process, a process of self-discovery and self-actualization. The point of having mentors is not to show you how to live or not make mistakes. What they can do is potentially allow you to get to your goals faster and more effectively, reducing unnecessary excessive pain and sharing lessons along the way, if you pick the right mentors.
We are fortunate enough that some of the greatest men and women in history have recorded their wisdom (and folly) in books and journals. Many others have had their lives chronicled by a careful biographer – from Plutarch to Boswell to Robert Caro. The literature available at your average library amounts to millions of pages and thousands of years of knowledge, insight and experience.
Maybe your parents were poor role models, or you lacked a great mentor. Yet if we choose to, we can easily access the wisdom of those who came before us – those whom we aspire to be like. If you can find a living person to be your mentor, that is great and fortunate. Usually, it is a person you aspire to be and if they are kind and generous enough to mentor you, you will be shared with how they think, behave and the decisions they made with the actions they took. By adopting a similar mindset resulting in specific decisions being made, it is likely that comparable results will be achieved.
If you are not able to find a living mentor, you are still able to learn from the stories of all the great people who have shared their knowledge, wisdom and lessons in books/videos, etc. Reading a book is like listening to the author, almost having a conversation with her/him (albeit a one-way conversation!). You can have a glimpse into their lives without actually meeting them in real life.
We not only owe it to ourselves to seek out this hard-won knowledge, but we also owe it to the people who took the time to record their experiences to try to carry on the traditions and follow their examples – to be the promising children of these noble parents.
So, know that mentors are plentiful and it just takes a bit of imagination and courage to seek them out. Having a mentor is not necessary, however, if you have huge goals and great ambition, a suitable mentor can help you to get there much faster than if you were on your own. It is possible but highly unlikely that what you are trying to achieve has never been achieved before in some form. So why not hack your ambition by utilising mentors who have been there and done that. And when you have achieved the results you desire, be sure to send the elevator down and be a mentor to others! The joy of helping and contributing to others will bring you much peace, fulfilment and joy.
Neka knows there is much to learn from Chaska about hunting and life. Who can you learn from to live your life better?
“We like to say that we don’t get to choose our parents, that they were given by chance – yet we can truly choose whose children we’d like to be.” – Seneca, On the Brevity of Life, 15.3a