The Hero's Journey: Meeting the Mentor


Author's note: This week is the fourth in a 12-part series on the Hero's Journey, or the monomyth proposed by Joseph Campbell. The fourth stage is Meeting the Mentor.

A beautiful morning... while walking I came upon a resident of the river area who I see from time to time. Something about him, I always recognize him and say "hey".

As I took this picture he says to me "Can I quote you a scripture?" and I said yes.

"Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

And then he puts his hand on my shoulder, smiles and says "Son, whatever it is that's on your mind... you've got this."

You've got this.

In the Refusal of the Call, we come face to face with every reason to be reluctant, to refuse, or to walk away. In order to go where nobody has gone before, we have to do what nobody has done before. In short, we give up and risk everything that has been done before, and everything that we know.

It can't be worth it, right?

Out of the depths of our doubts and fears, the mentor arrives to equip us and empower us for our heroic journey. The mentor nudges us toward our journey to be more than ordinary. The mentor provokes us to live more than ordinary lives, to make out of the ordinary choices, and to be more than ordinary, extraordinary people.

For many of us, our mentors are family members, friends, neighbors, principals, teachers, coworkers, supervisors, coaches, teammates, or even some very cool people you met via Twitter. Mentors even may be aspirational figures, such as those compiled at MoralHeroes.Org. Nonetheless, whoever they may be, these mentors provide a critical ingredient for the hero's journey.

In Meeting the Mentor, heroes encounter their mentors, who equip the journeyers with confidence, insight, training, or special tools to cross the threshold to adventure. In our journey, the mentor empowers us by offering two simple, yet profoundly powerful, truths.

Truth #1: The mentor not only shows the way, but shows there is a way

It may seem simple or trivial, but oftentimes the first step to finding the way is knowing there is a way. Mentors, because they have once accepted the Call to Adventure, ease our fears by assuring us that there is a way through, no matter how obscured or unclear it may be at any given time.

Truth #2: The mentor believes in us more than we believe in ourselves

When we think of mentors, it is easy to think of an Obi-Wan Kenobi-like figure, the old sage who invests countless hours into the teaching and training of a young disciple. But the mentor also may be a familiar face in a familiar place with a gentle reminder to persevere. Mentors are there to help us reach within ourselves, and to find the courage, strength, and wisdom inside ourselves that we didn't even know we had.

Whatever it is that's on your mind... you've got this.