Mentoring in Business: Lessons from Obi-Wan

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January is Mentoring Awareness Month

We acquired “mentoring” from the literature of ancient Greece. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey, Odysseus was away from home fighting and journeying for 20 years. During that time, Telemachus, the son he left as a babe in arms, grew up under the supervision of Mentor, an old and trusted friend. When the goddess Athena decided it was time to complete the education of young Telemachus, she visited him disguised as Mentor and they set out together to learn about his father. Today, we use the word mentor for anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another (usually younger) person’s life.[1]


Mentoring in Business

Mentoring is key in the success of any business. Futurpreneur states that 70% of small businesses with owners who receive mentoring survive for five years or more.

Besides the obvious benefits to the padawan (mentee, apprentice, learner), there are benefits to being a mentor to someone else. You benefit by:

  • Gaining satisfaction in helping someone else
  • Positively shaping and contributing to economic growth
  • Developing yourself professionally and growing your own network
  • Gaining personal credibility
  • Developing your teaching skills
  • Learning something new


Be an Effective Mentor

There are five commonly used techniques to mentor in business, according to Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations:

  1. Accompanying Make a commitment by participating in the learning process.
  2. Sowing Prepare your mentee by “sowing” concepts before they may even be fully understood, so the ideas make sense when the time comes.
  3. Catalyzing Sink or swim! Provoke a different way of thinking, force a change.
  4. Showing Be an example with your own actions.
  5. Harvesting Has your mentee learned practical lessons?


…and above all, you must have patience.

Yoda: “I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.”

Obi-Wan: “He will learn patience.”

Yoda: “Hmm. Much anger in him, like his father.”

Obi-Wan: “Was I any different when you taught me?”


If You Want To Mentor, But Don’t Know Where to Start

The Mentoring Partnership

Futurpreneur Canada

Live Your Dream




[2] Aubrey, Bob & Cohen, Paul (1995). Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations. Jossey Bass. pp. 23, 44–47, 96–97

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