A recent Sunday sermon on wisdom, as conveyed through the book of Proverbs, prompted me to reach out to two of my now-retired mentors. I’ve had more in my career, but several are no longer with us, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to thank these two for their investments made in me.

I’ve got mentors all around me today at Lessiter Media, including past and present Leadership Team members as well as a staff that will challenge and provide additional context as I try to “get out of my own head” on occasion.

I’ll venture a guess that that the average professional, if they’re lucky, might cite one mentor in their life. I’ve been blessed with several who decided that developing me, advising me and correcting me was worth their effort. This is in contrast to the “pass-through approach” that is seen more frequently these days, from educators advancing kids who haven’t earned their grades to supervisors who don’t want to rock the boat to friends who aren’t comfortable calling someone to the table, even if it’s for their own good.

As I was thinking about my own mentors, the just released Epoch Times Magazine special edition arriving in my mailbox caught my attention. Through an article by renowned author James Sale, I learned a few things I didn’t know about the topic of mentoring.

According to Sale, the word “mentor,” or its active tense, “mentoring” came out of The Odyssey by Homer, the famed Greek author.

Sale writes, “It is interesting that the action is named after the character in the story, for that, too, is an important clue. Education is nothing if not personal, as Mentor was a person."

“In a world where everything, including teaching, training and coaching is online – where the drive to reduce costs is paramount, so audio, video, and e-learning packages are replacing direct human inputs – we have the person as the heart of a true education."

"Who was Mentor and what was his role in The Odyssey? Mentor was the wise and older friend of Odysseus who was asked by the hero to look after and educate his son in his absence. Mentor's success is shown by how Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, rises to the challenges of manhood – and his destiny – as the story reaches its climax.”

The best way to educate anyone is to mentor them. Without mentoring, it is difficult to be educated.” –James Sale

Sale goes on to say that “the best way to educate anyone is to mentor them. Without mentoring, it is difficult (though not impossible) to be educated.” He points out that true education is personal and subjective and must be accepted as such to avoid teaching “dead knowledge.”

He adds that “true education is wisdom-oriented as opposed to knowledge-based; character-focused rather than exam-based; and experiential rather than academic.”

He makes supporting arguments that mentoring should be “age-led” and not youth-focused; and that the younger generation is supposed to learn from the older one. Mentoring should be respect-driven, rooted in culture and most importantly, is life-preparatory, not simply about a job, Sale notes.

The Greek myth, he says, points to this approach as a key for individuals to fulfill his or her destiny, not just one’s “purpose.”

If you buy what Sale is saying, success requires that mentoring cannot be optional for either participant. It’s a duty of both and should be part of the daily routine.

If you’re unsure where to go with this “deep thought,” make sure you’re in the audience at the & Dealership Minds Summit in Madison on August 6. We’ve assembled some of the industry’s best minds in leadership and management to serve as a backdrop for you and your peers to roll up your sleeves. Together, you’ll discover solutions you can bank on as our industry witnesses rapid-fire retirements, and a chapter in which you can’t afford to be ill-prepared.