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The Original Mentor

The Original Mentor

beautiful goddessHave you ever wondered where the word “mentor” comes from?

In Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, left home to join the Trojan War. He left his son, Telemachus, with his trusted friend Mentor. For 20 years Odysseus’ military campaign and protracted journey home kept him away from his son, beloved wife, and country. Then in The Odyssey, the king returns and finds his son a grown and mature man he can be proud to call his son and the next king. Mentor’s wise and careful tutelage made that possible.

Screeeeech!!! Stop the presses! Here’s the part of the story that rarely gets retold.

It turns out, writes Homer, that Mentor was not a very good guide at all. He was so deficient, that Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who loved Odysseus, his family and kingdom, was moved to intercede. She went to her father, Zeus, received permission to inhabit Mentor’s body, and guide Telemachus herself.

And THAT is why Homer’s Mentor has become synonymous with teaching, guiding, and coaching. What we learn from this parable is that mentoring does not come naturally, just because someone knows how to do something. We also learn that for a mentoring program to be successful buy-in from upper management (Zeus…it doesn’t get much higher) is essential.

A mentor is a person who serves as a role model for leadership, personal growth and professional development. An effective mentor works with his or her protégé to develop and nurture new ways of thinking and acting that lead to breakthrough performance.

Anyone who wants to can become a great mentor.

At Odyssey Mentoring, we lead our clients on a journey where mentors and protégés are partners. Each dedicated to giving and getting the most out of their mentoring program. Each committed to making it work and becoming the person they are meant to be. No divine intervention needed, just good solid program design and training to set a solid foundation.

We help mentoring partners develop the skills they need to nurture breakthrough thinking and productivity. These skills include understanding how people think, learning to ask reflective questions, becoming a keen observer of patterns, and learning to share your network.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

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      There are two great mentoring communities that I can recommend: http://www.PropellHer.com and http://www.MentorCity.com. I have talked with the founders of both and am very impressed with their approach to mentoring. Both sites offer opportunities to sign up to be either a mentor or mentee. Thanks for reading!

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