Heroes and mentors are inspiring. They are both unique. They can be household names or unknown and unsung. Both are remarkable in their own ways. Both have the potential of great power and influence over others.
Everyone needs heroes and everyone needs mentors but they are not usually the same person. If you listen to others, you will hear the names of both. You will also get an idea of the value of each one. This can help you in your own quest to find the right person to help you develop and grow your business and your life.
Why look for a hero or mentor?
- Name recognition from others — so they can impress, provide status, etc.
- An inspiring story — a blueprint to follow, ancient or current, a path to victory
- Emotional overtones — even dead heroes are very human and easy to empathize with (especially if you are in a similar kind of situation)
- Current access —someone to talk to
- A history — a process that they are willing to share
- Involvement — access to others
I have a client I partner with who chose Alexander the Great as his hero, He admires Alexander’s commitment to his goal and his approach to problems he faced and the soldiers he led. My client is also a mentor to his brother who is starting a business.
I have another client I mentor who has several top names in business that she talks to and considers her mentors. They have power and prestige although they are not heavily participating in her progress but serve more as a sounding board. In many ways, she is a heroine herself for overcoming major health issues and is a mentor to others.
Each one has limitations
Who would you rather engage with — a hero or mentor? Consider the differences and then decide.
1. Awe vs. Inspiration
Heroes make us go “Wow, they did that?” There’s a sense of awe with a hero and a feeling that we couldn’t do that.
Mentors also give us that “Wow feeling” but inside we think, with their help, we could be like them. The key is can we get enough help when we need it.
2. Example vs. Mirror
Heroes usually are the example we are encouraged to follow. We admire and want to emulate them. Often we can’t.
Mentors are examples, too, but they are examples that work with you and for you. With a mentor, you can find the hero inside you. The limitation is that the path they recommend may not fit you or lead you where you want to go. The wrong mentor can do a lot of harm.
3. Remote vs. Engaged
Heroes seem remote. They seem to be above the rest of us, even if they are among us doing good, saving the day, protecting us.
Mentors seem more like family. They are in there slogging with us — opening doors, watching your back, and guiding our progress. Like family, they have expectations of us that we may or may not be willing to fulfill.
Like my clients, it can be good to have a hero and a mentor. Just be clear on what you expect and what you are willing to do, put up with, and how you want to use what you learn from them.
Good heroes and heroines and mentors:
- Are people who discover their abilities while rooted in the real world and grounded in reality.
- Are character builders.
- Use positive communication with others.
- Are generally hopeful and optimistic.