As I was growing up, I was always attracted to mentor type characters in films and cartoons.
I would hang on every word of wisdom from the likes of Mr. Miyagi (Original Karate Kid) or Splinter (Ninja Turtles).
I was attracted to Chinese Kung Fu films and Japanese Samurai films.
Yoda from Star Wars was another character I looked up to.
Of course, those are all fictional characters, in my waking life; I never really had a mentor.
My football coaches all fell short of that role, as did my teachers and my university professors.
I never really attended church growing up unfortunately, nor did I get to know any of my grandparents.
I lived in 3 countries before I was 8.
My father would impart some basic words of wisdom, but I never really appreciated those until after he was gone.
My mother was a strong, hard working woman, who did everything for her family, she led by example, by doing – I’ve learned much from her, but again, not quite the mentor I need (or needed).
In recent years, it’s dawned on me why I was so drawn to all those fictional characters, characters that seemed to display (and share) both wisdom and virtue - (I've since increased my repertoire, so don't worry).
Even though they were fictional, I think they were appealing to a dormant part of my nature.
It’s in our nature to need and want to be mentored, to seek truth, goodness, wisdom and virtue.
Societies traditionally had (and still have) hierarchical structures and historically our elders were held in the highest esteem within our communities.
Wisdom was imparted from parents, grandparents and more broadly from the elders in the community to young people. This is what enabled cultures to flourish; this transfer of knowledge and ideas within communities.
This was traditional education, perhaps not by modern western standards of public education, but education and important education non-the-less.
It was about learning skills that would make you a functional part of the community, whilst also cultivating your character (and spirit) so you can live a virtuous life.
These days (for a myriad of reasons I won’t get into), both families and communities are increasingly fragmented.
We are more or less left to our own devices to figure things out.
The wisdom of our elders is no longer valued, nor sought, nor really accessible anymore.
My point is we all need a mentor; we could all use some wise words from time to time to help us navigate our way through life.
I never really knew it until recently, but I think it’s the reason I went into sports coaching to start and have since devoted my life to helping others.
I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve committed myself to studying culture, education, performance, tradition, theology, sociology, human behaviour and just about everything else that goes into living a good life in the modern world.
I have some grey hair creeping in, so perhaps one day, I’ll be able to fulfil the role of elder within my family or community – that’s what I aspire to do.
In the meantime, I often get requests to work one-on-one with people, which I have done and still do in a limited capacity.
I value this work very much, so I’m careful in terms of whom I decide to work with – I need to know there’s going to be both value given and received.
I never felt comfortable calling myself a life coach, I don’t even know what that means exactly. Anyone can wake up in the morning and call them selves a life coach. I guess I’ll leave it to others to label me.
I do understand though, that like me, some people may benefit from entering into a ‘mentoring ‘ type relationship and for that, I’ll always make myself available.
I’ve decided I’ll call any one on one, or tailored work with small groups, my ‘Miyagi Sessions’ – a homage to my mentors of the past.