One commentator to this blog suggested that for women, mentors have tended to be mothers or grandmothers. Men have traditionally had other men, often not related, as mentors, but for women this is just often not the case. So, I took an informal poll. My small, but extremely bright, control group immediately said, in both cases, “I’ve had women mentors!”
So, based on such extensive research, let’s say that men and women are no different. As I said in my initial post, we are all students and teachers from time to time. Based on our openness to help and guidance in any given situation, anyone we meet might be a mentor for us. And that’s the catch, isn’t it? We never know where the next inspiration might appear and who might be the messenger, so it’s best to be open to what life offers.
Growing up I used to think it great on Sunday morning to ride with Dad before church to the golf course he enjoyed so much. There he would treat me to Lance’s cheese crackers and a small, bottled coke dispensed by Napolean Adams. “Polie” was the shoeshine guy and drink fetcher. He was also a brilliant mentor for me over the years.
As I got older and got to know Polie as a teenager and then adult, I realized the depth of his intelligence and insight, often well hidden by the discrimination he endured as the hired help. One day, when I was maybe 14 or 15, he said to me as I passed his small alcove, “Robert, you’ve got something in you that you don’t know about yet, and your daddy does too.”
I was too shy or confused or both to ask what he meant. As Arno said years later, “A good teacher doesn’t necessarily express an opinion, he merely shows a way.” That comment by Polie AND my willingness to open to the guidance of someone I trusted and respected have kept me on a journey that has led me to this time on this Sunday morning so many years later. It’s the journey of a seeker, set on this path many years ago and willing to follow it to its end.