I know it’s a cliche but we all stand on the shoulders of giants. We all owe a great debt to those that came before. This has been understood by most and is (one of a great many) reasons for the veneration of ancestors through most societies and throughout most of time. However it is not just the dead that we owe debt to but to those that took time to help and fashion us, no matter how few they may have been.
I want to take a second today to talk about the great importance of mentorship for men and how becoming a mentor to a male in your life is one of the biggest and greatest things that you can do. I know that my own life would have turned out very differently if it weren’t for the various male mentors that I’ve had throughout my life.
Whether it was a coach, a friend, or a family member I know I’ve been shaped and forever changed because of the investment they made in me, even if neither one of us knew it was taking place. And even if I didn’t realize the impact until much later in life, even if the person is long gone and will never know the good that they did.
My Experience With Mentorship
I’ll talk about a few key mentors in my life and the great impact they had on me. The first was a neighbor friend who was about 5 years older than me. He had great respect for my father and my father even kept him from getting his ass whipped one time and he was very grateful for that (even if he part way deserved it). He was very athletic, popular, and held in high esteem by most around us.
I never understood why at the time but he took me under his wing and always looked out for me, treating me like a little brother (well minus the constant torture). He introduced me to friends much older than I, helped teach me to be tough, and taught me about girls (which he always had plenty of). I grew by leaps and bounds running around with him (in some ways probably shouldn’t of) but learned a lot about the world and how it worked. He probably never knew this but he had a huge impact on my life and how I ended up.
The next big mentor came much later in life, after college in fact. And that was the local MMA coach. Now one can think that they outgrow the need for mentors but such is not the case. I was in a part of my life where I had numbed myself with various substances and had ended up in some rough spots that I knew I needed to do something about. I tried church but it didn’t give me what I needed, but fighting stuck and did.
Though he respected my autonomy and adulthood it was nice to be somewhere where you are held to a standard yet still cared for. Where respect is earned. This coach influenced me not by anything he necessarily said to me but rather how he conducted himself. Sort of like holding a mirror to oneself and knowing “Hey, I can do better. I can be more than I’ve become.” without saying a word. Sometimes simply being an example is the most powerful form of mentorship there is.
Last and the greatest of all is my father. By no means a perfect man and one who could sometimes be overly harsh with me but looking back I understood he did this because he understood how hard the world is and he was trying to help me. What I saw as brutality and insensitivity I soon learned were actually love, even is sometimes misapplied.
And he has had the greatest impact of all. Though there are bits and pieces that were not good, such is life, and such is the nature of so close and unique a relationship. I know for my sons I want to transfer the good while lessening the bad, all the while knowing I’ll fail in some ways for I am human. But that’s another part of mentorship, you’re going to mess up. That doesn’t mean you won’t do far more good than harm. Never underestimate how important a father is.
Becoming A Mentor
Like I mentioned above I think one of the greatest forms of mentorship is simply serving as an example of what a man should be. Embodying the ideal that you have in your heart. And doing so in actions, not words. And just living your life in such a way that those that see it will be impacted by it. This is done quietly and something that “just happens” as opposed to one actively looking to mentor those around them. Just serve as an example and don’t think about it and you’ll be mentoring those around you.
Then of course throughout life we serve various functions where we are seen as “role models” and mentors to those around us or under our care. Perhaps we take up coaching, teaching, or becoming an instructor of some sorts. This applies to everything from being a little league coach to a drill instructor. Where our mentorship is an active form of mentorship.
Of course one can also teach and instruct through amazing things such as the written word and/or artistic expression. Though I did not mention them above many men of paper and ink have had a huge impact on me as well. I speak highly of the Conan (and especially Robert E. Howard, who was also a boxer and writer) tales in my writings because of how the character served as a sort of “inspiration” for me earlier in life. Challenging me to be strong, brave, and to persevere even when the odds were stacked against me.
I sought out chances to “cultivate my inner Conan”, challenges to win whether in fighting, bravery, courtship, or many others. It was as if the spirit of an ancient hero reached out to me and helped steel my heart and invigorate my courage. And this went beyond boyhood but even influences me now as a grown man.
Being A Good Mentor
Now one may say “Charles I’ve made many mistakes in life and could never be a good mentor.” and I would say don’t count yourself out. Yes, one must first focus on removing the plank from their own eye and cleaning one’s own house before attempting to clean their neighbors but still you have value to give to someone. You should adopt the attitude of the apprentice and always seek to learn and grow from what life has to offer, this alone will make you a good mentor.
Be humble and seek to cultivate wisdom and strength. Remember the greatest form of mentorship is living by example and also you don’t know the good you do and maybe never will (many of my mentors have moved on from this world, likely never knowing the true impact they’ve made). Don’t hold back the light you can shine because you doubt it and become a mentor to those around you and shape the world for good in the process.
If anything I said here interests you I’d highly recommend you check out The Ultimate Alpha Collection which is a compilation of 16 of my books for the price of 5. It covers everything from being a man to making money to getting the right mindset to getting girls to fighting and more and is a resource no man should be without. Pick up your copy today!