I recently spoke of a “mentor” of mine and the responses surprised me. People seemed to be very resistant to the idea that I have a person in my life I turn to for advice when asking myself the tough questions.
If I am reading the responses right, people seemed to think that by honoring my teachers or mentors I was diminishing myself. The objections inspired me to take a deeper look at my own thoughts on these relationships.

 

I find it strange how uncomfortable we are in North America with words like “guru”, “mentor” and “teacher.” In most parts of the world the relationship between teacher and apprentice is an obvious part of life. You find these relationships in areas of skill. For instance, even in North America, if you want to become a welder you apprentice a tradesman. You work “under” someone who is more “masterful” at this practice and you build your skill alongside them. Is it really that odd to have someone you look up to when learning about compassion and relationships? Really?

 

I am shaped and molded by the wise mentors of my life. They have made a permanent impression on me. I am imprinted by my experience and everything I am now is affected by them.

 

I look at something as simple and superficial as the clothes in my closet and I see so many past influences: my first acting teachers in the wooden, silver and gold bangles I keep hanging on my dresser; I see Diane Keaton in the over-sized trousers I store next to my collection of men’s dress shirts and vests; I see three of my best friends in the silk, Indian scarves that drape over porcelain hooks coming out of my wall.

 

I am a cornucopia of those I have been inspired by, an amalgamation of their expressions and mine. Because I have known them I allow myself to be more flamboyant, more creative, and more, well. . . me. I choose bits of wisdom they offer in all ways and I benefit from that.

 

I am committed to openly admitting there is always more to learn and scouring the world for all types of “gurus.” This is, I believe, a practice of gratitude, respect, and enlightenment. I kind of think it is the point of existence. And in recognizing these teachers I am more defined in myself.

 

John Glover and Greg Beeman are two great mentors of mine in acting and directing.

 

Keith Raniere is a man who epitomizes mindfulness and compassion for me. Esther Chiappone is a fiercely truthful woman I know. They are both my mentors in being a true humanitarian.

 

My dear friend and editor Rob Gray is my mentor in communication and the beauty of a lyrical life.

 

My boyfriend is my mentor in unconditional love and finding balance through depthy play.

 

My best girl friends are my mentors in forgiveness, patience, and laughter. And good wine and chocolate.

 

My mom is my mentor in family. My nephew, my mentor in the simplicity of joy.

 

These people are all my mentors, people I consider teachers of great expertise, some teach through accomplishment, others through just being. In my opinion, to see greatness in others is to live a life of curiosity and humility.

 

I search for those who understand what I don’t and when I find someone who has qualities I long for, qualities I don’t yet understand, I pay attention.

 

I listen, I observe, and I grow.

 

But teachers are all around us: the Travelocity operator I decided to lose my patience with who challenged me to learn greater empathy and patience; the woman I drank a glass of wine with at The Henry Public House who told stories of her web romance and taught me that, internet or not, we are all just seeking some sense of love and belonging; the boisterous kid on a swing set who at the top of his lungs inspired the entire playground to join in singing an acapella remix of “I like to move it, move it” and reminded me of the inherent joy in free and unapologetic expression; all these wise mentors are disguised as everyday people, each offering valuable life lessons.

 

These moments that often go unrecognized are like the healthy meals that never get the appreciation they deserve. They propel us forward humbly and with quiet potency.

 

I want to thank each of you for continuing to teach me about the corners of humanity I could never see without you. I am eternally enriched because of your presence and participation. Know that I am grateful, enthusiastic, and open to hearing, reading, and watching your authentic and personal stories, thoughts and ideas. I am a better woman for it.

Add yours Comments – 169

  • Apollo

    on September 24, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    I know that I’m late to post on this subject but I wanted to
    share some philosophy from the best mentor I’ve ever known, my father. Although he passed away in 2009, his wisdom
    is still with me in my heart and mind. I
    hope that you can benefit from his thoughts on life and finding who you truly
    are.

    My father was a soft-spoken man. Never a great thinker or a genius, yet he had
    a way of making a point. Here are just a
    few of the things that he taught me that have led me down a path of happiness.

    1.
    1. All human
    beings are equal- He would always tell me that there was nothing wrong in
    having people to idolize or consider a mentor but to always remember in the end
    we are all humans and not perfect.
    Sometimes in life we like to build people up and think of them as “godlike”
    or better than others, even ourselves.
    But the truth my father would always say was that even mentors and
    leaders cry, fear, bleed, fall to disease, and in many cases lead others down
    the wrong path. He wanted me to
    understand that although it was alright to follow others, I should never view
    an individual in a way that sacrifices the image of myself. As human beings, we are all the same in the
    end and we shouldn’t forget that.

    2. 2.
    A leader or mentor should never “charge” for
    their knowledge-Although this was referring to the financial side of things, my
    dad explained that we must not allow someone who we choose as a mentor to take
    from us in a mental, emotional, or physical fashion as well. He believed that a mentor was meant to teach
    and educate us, not for personal gain but so that we could better ourselves and
    continue to find what makes us happy. My
    father often stated that for someone to “charge” another for guidance was a
    sign of weakness and that one that chooses to do so is not a mentor at all.

    3. 3.
    Have your heart in the right place, keep your
    wallet in your left-When I asked my father to elaborate on this he explained
    that he believed in giving to those who were less fortunate but to always make
    sure you were giving from the heart and not giving your money freely without
    considering this first.

    In my own experience I learned firsthand
    what this meant. In high school/college
    I had a friend who spoke big and shared with me many idealistic views he had
    for the world. Considering this person a
    man of purpose I felt the need to support him in his campaign, both in a
    friendship and financial manner.
    However, as the years passed I began to notice a change. His hopes and dreams were no longer a
    priority, now replaced with the need for personal gain. In addition, my financial obligations changed
    as my father grew ill. When I finally
    explained to my “friend” that I could no longer donate to his cause, I was
    shocked by his reaction. Granted to say,
    this person who I considered a friend never really valued me as such.

    If you ever find yourself in such a
    situation with such a person, I offer this advice. As an
    experiment, pull back your financial support and see how they react.
    I think you will be quite surprised by the results.

    4. 4.
    No matter that situation-research, research, research!-My
    dad wanted me to become my own person early on, but he did not want me venture
    into the world without being cautious.
    Whether it be a career, relationship, or personal enlightenment, he
    always told me to look at the big picture and from all perspectives. As an actress I am sure you do research in
    every role you take. I view this as the
    same. No matter what path you choose,
    always look at all sides, positive and negative. When we believe in something, it’s easy for
    us to become “blind” to certain things and to filter the facts, usually when it
    goes against our thoughts and beliefs.
    My father always said that “turning a blind eye” to that in which we disagree
    with is a sign of weakness, not strength.
    By accepting to look, listen, delve into the past, learn from others’
    experiences will only make you stronger as a person and lead to a happier more fulfilled
    life.

    5.
    5. If it
    quacks like a duck-Yes, its an analogy old as the hills but so true. My dad used to tell me this all the
    time. He believed that sometimes we want
    to see things in a different light, again, blinded to the truth of what is
    staring right in the face. A duck is a duck and we must be willing to look and
    understand that as much as we want a leader, mentor, boyfriend, friend, etc. to
    be a saint, sometimes all you have is a duck.

    6.
    6. The last thing my dad taught me was plain and
    simple, be honest with yourself-My father was not going to win any prizes for
    smartest man, richest man, humanitarian but as he told me, “when I look in the
    mirror, at least I know the person staring back is truly me.” Its easy to get caught up in believing
    someone else has the answers, but the truth comes down to the fact that a
    mentor guides us but does not define us.
    When we get up and look in the mirror, the question has to be asked-is
    this “truly” me looking back at myself?
    Be honest with yourself and know that its ok if you don’t have it
    figured out yet, but that in the end the only person that can do this is yourself.

    Life can be tricky. We may start down one path and ended up on
    another. But I like to think our decisions in life are like lines in the
    sand. We can erase the past and create a
    new direction at any point. All it takes
    is some belief in oneself and the courage to take a stand and be an individual.

    I hope my father’s wisdom can be a benefit to
    you. I wish you the best Allison.

  • rreisterer

    on January 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Words of wisdom from my Mentor – may I introduce you to Him?

    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
    If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
    If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but have not love, I gain nothing.
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
    It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
    It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
    For we know in part and we prophesy in part,but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
    Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  • Maldwyn

    on January 7, 2013 at 11:45 am

    It’s great that you the strong fellings described by you. Mentors have to have one most important trait. That is, can their opinion be trusted. If the answer is yes, you are onto a winner, but beware of false prophets. I hope 2013 will be a great year for you.

  • rreisterer

    on January 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    If you would like to know more about my mentor, please ask. I can be reached at ronald@raiderpride.org. In the mean time listen to this – http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE

    • 3tesla

      on January 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Your mentor, St. Paul, also wrote in the same letter that “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” I’d quite like to know what Allison, who supports female empowerment initiatives, makes of that.

      • rreisterer

        on January 9, 2013 at 2:40 am

        I would hope that Allison would recognize that LONG before my country’s forefathers declared that “all men are created equal”; Jesus advanced the idea that men and women are EQUAL in value and rights. You misquote – out of context – and misinterpret Paul’s point regarding spiritual authority in worship and church leadership. We must love one another, forgive one another, serve one another, be merciful towards one another, and respect God given roles to find that peace that “surpasses understanding”.

        Please remember that Bible teaching on difference in role in no way implies a difference in worth, value, or ability. Galatians 3:28 (“neither male nor female”), 1 Timothy 2:15 (“she shall be saved”), and 1 Peter 3:7 (“heirs together of the grace of life”) all show that males and females are equals as far as their person and salvation status is concerned. Women often are superior to men in talent, intellect, and ability. Women are not inferior to men, anymore than Christ is inferior to God, citizens are inferior to the President, or church members are inferior to elders. The role of women in the church is not a matter of control, power, or oppression. It is a matter of submission on the part of all human beings to the will of God. It is a matter of WILLINGNESS on the part of God’s creatures, male and female, to subordinate themselves to the divine arrangement regarding the sexes. The biblical differentiation is purely a matter of function, assigned tasks, and sphere of responsibility. The question for us is: “How willing are we to fit ourselves into God’s arrangement?”

        • rreisterer

          on January 9, 2013 at 3:03 am

          The ultimate female empowerment:

          http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A1gAcH5rx4Q

          • rreisterer

            on January 9, 2013 at 3:24 am

            Where Did Jesus Stand on the Issue of Women’s Rights?
            By Teila Tankersley

            From the beginning woman was created, not as the servant of man, but as his companion, his equal. “And the Lord God said: It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.”–Gen. 2:18.

            The Bible, properly interpreted, teaches the fundamental equality of men and women of all racial and ethnic groups, all economic classes, and all age groups, based on the teachings of scripture as reflected in Galatians 3:28: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Another scripture of reference is 1 Corinthians 11:11-12.

            When you dig into the scriptures it is evident to see that Jesus’ honor and respect was not reserved simply for his mother. It was extended to all women—an attitude largely unexpected and unknown in his culture and time.

            Paul identified sixteen significant helpers in ministry in his letters to the Romans (16:1-16), and at least ten of them were women. Women clearly played a significant role in the work of the Apostle Paul.

            The Bible is one of the few historical books that even go so far as to even mention women by name, you’ll find that in most cultures during that time, only prominent woman were referenced or included in text. In this male-dominant culture, it was customary to list the husband’s name first, if a woman’s name was even to be included. Yet, the Bible listed Priscilla’s name before her husband Aquila. In fact, of the seven times the two names are mentioned together, Priscilla is listed first five of those times (Acts 18:18-19, 26; Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim. 4:19). This reversal indicates Priscilla’s importance in the minds of the New Testament writers Luke and Paul.

            In a day and age when women were not respected, and were rarely educated, Jesus engaged a Samaritan woman in discussion. John 4:1-42 He treated women as intelligent beings responsible for their own thoughts and actions in a time when rabbis didn’t even speak to women (Orthodox still don’t).

            In the Greek culture of that time, men loved to get together and discuss philosophy, or go to sporting events, while the women stayed behind, never being allowed to venture out of the house very far. Social, cultural and educational opportunities for women were very limited. Yet, Jesus welcomed female disciples into his entourage to learn the ways of God, along with the male disciples. The Bible doesn’t specify just how many women traveled with Jesus and his male disciples, but Luke records the names of a prominent few, and mentions there were “many others.”

            The story of Deborah is found in the Judges Chapters 4-5. After 20 years of oppression, God told Deborah that it was time to deliver the people once again. She appointed Barak to lead the army, but he was afraid to go without Deborah. She had deep faith in God. She united the people of Israel and led them to victory against the Canaanites.

            Where did Christ stand on the subject of marriage? He instructed a wife to be in subjection to her husband. Keep in mind prior to this most woman were treated as pieces of property, Jesus brought equality to marriage, by instructing that a man is to love his wife like Christ loved the Church. He was to value, defend and respect her. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

            When the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus, the Roman law was clear that a woman caught in adultery should be stoned yet, Jesus told her accusers that “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

            Prior to His ascension into heaven, Christ himself appeared before a few of his friends and that included his friend Mary Magdalene.

            As you can see that although Roman law dictated during the time of Christ, He was and is a respecter of woman as is evident in the scriptures. So, the next time someone brings up the topic of women’s rights, rest assured that Jesus Christ preached and advanced the idea that men and women are equal in value and rights.

        • 3tesla

          on January 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm

          Thank you for thoughtful and eloquent responses to my post; I have enjoyed reading them and will ‘chew them over’ in the coming days.

          > You misquote – out of context – and misinterpret Paul’s point regarding
          > spiritual authority in worship and church leadership.

          In my defence, the quotation is accurate and from the well-respected and popular “New International Version” of The Bible. And as for context, it was presented to bring balance to the proposition of St. Paul as a mentor to women in the 21st. Century; many of whom not only speak in Christian church services but have been ordained as ministers with some degree of authority over men (in the Church of England, at least, where I fellowship).

          As a liberal Christian I see St. Paul’s writings as a very useful and thought-provoking guide to life as a child of God, but sadly the norms and prejudices of the society and times he lived in seem to have affected his thinking at times which forces me to reinterpret some of his conclusions for our own times.

  • Kurt57

    on April 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

    One of the great quotes of our time: “To see greatness in others is to live a life of curiosity and humility.”

    I’m posting it on Facebook! Thank you!

  • Olya Shelest

    on July 21, 2013 at 9:12 am

    It all makes sense, Allison. About mentors in our lives – whether a real guru or a woman from the Henry Public House. I’m glad I found this page throurh your twitter account. I’m not really a twitter person, but am following those who can be my mentors 🙂

  • Dmitri Freund

    on January 5, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    I spent seven years in Moscow, Russia in 2001 through 2008 studying art. I started at one of Moscow’s art academies, but found the approach
    to be very unsatisfactory. They were still carrying on with the
    tradition of Socialist Realism. A year and a half into my stay I met a
    remarkable teacher, Igor Ivanovich Omel’chenko. He became my mentor for
    the rest of my stay in Russia.

    The remarkable side of his teaching was his ability to foster my
    growth without hampering me with rigid preconceived ideas. Instead of
    forcing me into some mold he allowed the artist in me to come out, grow
    its wings and soar. Like a shrewd gardener he simply pruned away
    undesirable growth.

    The mentor I had in Moscow was to me like a father. He taught me art and shared with me his love. Those 5 years I had with him were amazing. I, in a sense, lost myself in him.

    To this day I realize that my greatest results do not come from conscious ego. My ego only stands in my way. I think our world makes that point amply clear.

    Thank you for sharing those thoughts to me.

  • Rock

    on January 18, 2014 at 9:24 am

    You are wise. Sometimes we need to look to ourselves though, so that we know if we can be comfortable with someone elses answers or not.

  • richard

    on January 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Nothing wrong with mentors.after all wasn’t it Aristotle who mentored Alexander the Great?

    • 3tesla

      on January 24, 2014 at 10:48 am

      I’d agree, up to a point. For example Adolf Hitler had a mentor too: Dietrich Eckart of the cult-like, anti-semitic Thule Society. You’ve got to exercise some personal judgement as to whose philosophy you decide to buy into.

      • richard

        on January 24, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        I agree..and once you find the right menter it can and will pay impressive dividends in the years to come!

  • PeteyG

    on January 26, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Just came across this site. It’s encouraging to see such thoughtfulness and insight. Good for you.

  • Phil Damico

    on March 14, 2014 at 8:18 am

    “I listen, I observe, and I grow.” That’s all that matters Allison.

  • Mark

    on March 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    The negative response to this angers the hell out of me. Stop viewing life as a race with a winners and losers. Quit looking at Red States and Blue States and thinking one or the other is evil. Give an individual the benefit of the doubt. Most importantly, the message of “Self-acceptance and Love” is the product, so take the good and cherish it for the rarity that it is.

    Judging others is a huge red flag for the inability for one to accept him/herself. I’m speaking from the viewpoint of one that had something to say about everything and was quick to judge not so long ago, so I get it. But I also know how much more rewarding loving yourself, accepting yourself and others as they are, and living without judgement that goes so far as to lump everything into two buckets labeled Good and Evil.

    We are all imperfect and we all want to be loved and accepted for who we are. Not enough people get that and even fewer want to spread that universal truth. Cheers

  • Samuel

    on April 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Once that boisterous kid was me and that sentence embarrassed me for no reason. 😀 🙂
    I love you Allison Mack.

  • Jon Kaiser

    on April 19, 2014 at 1:48 am

    A mentor doesn’t have to be something that everyone agrees to look up to, you learn more from failure than you do from triumph, and when it comes to learning from people, you can not only learn the type of person you want to be, but the type of person you do not, I was abused for 10 years of my childhood and while this may shock a lot of you, I wouldn’t change it for the world because it made me who I am today. It taught me the things that I don’t want to be or put other people through, it taught me how to be protective of others, how to put other people before my own personal self gain, yea are there scars? there are, but every person, every situation, is all designed to put you to a test of some kind or another, and while you can look negatively through all the bad things that you have been put through, some good can come of every situation if looked at the right way, so why is it anyones decision but hers as to who she finds a mentor like influence in her life? Knowledge is power, but you can know everything in the world there is to know and without the wisdom of when and where it is useful to put the knowledge into application, its worthless. And learning from other peoples mistakes before you make them yourself is a great quality, so why would you not support Allison in all of her choices as the ones that she finds best instead of criticizing who they are, look instead at who they are to her and why she would consider them that way.
    Kaiser

  • Eduardo Canessa

    on May 22, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Allison, keep on trucking lol. You got it right. Life is about growth, learning, evolution, and sometimes revolution. This last one is painful often, but is the strongest motor of growth you can have. Stagnation is death, omniscience is something only God has, so we can always learn, we can always grow. Those that say otherwise are arrogant and ignorant. They have forcefully and stubbornly surrendered their will to move and to become better. You should never stop trying to be better, searching for knowledge, and fighting to grow.

  • Raa

    on June 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Go deeper, do not stay here my sister-friend.