The origin of a word can teach us a lot about its meaning. For this issue on mentoring, I did a little research and confirmed something I vaguely remembered from taking Greek in high school: Mentor is the name of the caregiver Odysseus appointed to oversee the education of his son Telemachus while he was fighting the Trojan War.

Mentor is derived from an ancient Greek noun meaning “intent, purpose, passion, and spirit.” A mentor helps to generate and cultivate all these things in his or her mentee.

We further learn from Homer’s Odyssey (a Greek epic written around 800 BC) that Mentor was actually the goddess Athena—who ruled wisdom, war, and justice—in disguise.

Mentor also contains the Latin root men- (mind, as in mental) and refers to the person who teaches you the mindset required for achieving certain goals.

History offers many examples of helpful mentoring relationships: Socrates and Plato, Hayden and Beethoven, Freud and Jung. Mentoring became a fundamental human relationship where one person invests time, energy, and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of another person.

Many business leaders attribute at least part of their success to the power of mentorship. In this issue Susan Sly interviews her mentor Jimmy Smith, who when she was new to the business, 1) helped her see what was possible, 2) gave her his roadmap for success, and 3) believed in her before she believed in herself.

Jimmy taught Susan the geometric progression of numbers the network marketing business model is based on. “Once you know the math,” he said, “it’s much easier to stay the course.” He encouraged her to become a voracious student of personal growth. He shared with her the challenges he had faced so she would be prepared for what most certainly awaited her—rejection, attrition, no-shows, and more. Whenever one of these situations would occur, Susan would recall Jimmy’s stories, take a deep breath, and make the best of the situation.

You will find many similar lessons in this issue, as iconic network marketing leaders share their mentoring tips, insights, and real-life experiences.

The story of mentorship started a long time ago, with the goddess Athena breathing life into Mentor. After winning the war, Odysseus is condemned to wander vainly for ten years in his attempt to return home, while Telemachus, now grown, ventures in search of his father. Athena assuming the form of Mentor accompanies Telemachus on his quest. Father and son eventually reunite and cast down would-be usurpers of Odysseus’ throne and Telemachus’ birthright.

Through their deeds and words, mentors help us actualize our potential and reclaim our birthright to be, do, and have anything we want in life.

A mentor conditions your mind to achieve everything you came on this earth to accomplish. Find your mentors and follow their lead. Then aspire, study, and practice to become a mentor yourself who guides others on their journey home.

DR. JOSEPHINE GROSS is cofounder and editor in chief of Networking Times.

Back to top