A Mentor or Hero?

I have heard many motivational speakers and pastors talk about the importance of having a mentor as an aspiring person. It was said that whether you are a carpenter, shoemaker, lawyer, banker, trader, career person or politician, you need a mentor.

If a mentor is truly necessary for every aspiring individual, the next question to ask is ‘WHO IS A MENTOR’ and ‘WHAT SHOULD BE HIS OR HER DUTIES OVER YOU?’

According to a definition; a mentor is a coach, guide, tutor, facilitator, councelor and trusted advisor. A mentor is someone willing to spend his or her time and expertise to guide the development of a Mentee.


In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Heracles and Asopis. In his old age Mentor was a friend of a legendary king of Ithaca by name Odysseus or Ulysseus. When King Odysseus was going to the Trojan war, he placed Mentor and his foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus. Mentor was to take care of Telemachus and nurture him in the kingly way until he returns.

When Athena visited Telemachus she took the disguise of Mentor to hide herself from the suitors of Telemachus’s mother Penelope. As Mentor, the goddess encouraged Telemachus to stand up against the suitors and go abroad to find out what happened to his father.

When King Odysseus returned to Ithaca, Athena appeared briefly in the form of Mentor again at Odysseus’ palace.

Mentor as a term

Because of Mentor’s relationship with Telemachus, and the disguised Athena’s encouragement and practical plans for dealing with personal dilemmas; the personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague.

The first recorded modern usage of the term can be traced to a 1699 book titled ‘Les Aventures de Télémaque’, by the French writer François Fénelon. In the book, Mentor was the lead character. This book was very popular during the 18th century and the modern application of the term can be traced to this publication.

Because of the significance of Mentor to Telemachus, the word ‘mentor’ was adopted to mean a guide or tutor among other relative meanings. Obviously, the need of a mentor cannot be overemphasized, most especially for those who have no ‘mentor’ in their parents.

The Holy-Bible also stated that ‘In the multitude of counsel (tutor or guide) there is safety’.

Sadly is the fact that, many who are bestowed with the responsibility of mentoring are not actually doing that. They are simply a hero.

I have come across a lot of aspiring youths who would say ”So so and so is my mentor” and by the time I ask them ”When last did you speak with your mentor?”, some would lie, while some are truthful ”Last year” or ”Five months ago” they confess.

A mentor is not someone you hardly speak with. A mentor is the person who instruct you regularly. Therefore there must be an effective means of communication between you and your mentor.

I was in a meeting recently, and Niyi Adesanya (a foremost leadership and motivational speaker in Nigeria) said and I rephrase ”If you have not spoken with your mentor in 3 months, then you need another mentor.” And really, going by the definition and the root meaning of the word mentor, I also think “If you haven’t spoken or personally hear from your mentor in 30 days, then you don’t have a mentor.

Many individuals that people refer to as a mentor, are merely a hero.


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