I like this scene in ‘Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back’ where Yoda Says ‘Do or Do not, There is no try‘.

Yoda, in my view, is an example of a great mentor in action.

Couple of months back, after ten months of my entrepreneurship journey, I went back to my mentor and asked ‘Why didn’t you warn me about the perils of Entrepreneurship ?’.

With a quirky smile, he replied, “You would not have listened”.

I have been fortunate enough to be associated with a great set of mentors throughout my career.

I also have a “go to” mentor who continues to nurture me even after two decades.

I think I have gained a lot from these mentors and I thought I will share what possibly are their unique characteristics

Personal Stake

Mentors take a personal stake in you.  They invest their time, energy and have a continuous interest in nurturing you. If you have noticed they never take the position of ‘What is in it for me ?’. It is possibly one of those relationships, where you are not asked, ‘What is your exit strategy?’. None exists. They are that breed who knows only to “Give”.


Mentors are very active listeners and they clearly present a ‘Mirror’ to your own selves. They will bring out your erroneous zones and darkest fears with seamless ease. In any conversation with a mentor you will come out discovering more about your own selves.

A Bias for action

Mentors put you on a path , where you can take concrete actionable steps. They bring in a healthy dose of philosophy , followed by clear actionable steps, despite the rat hole you are in. They constantly push you from a state of haziness to state of clarity with relative ease. At times, they have this innate ability to push you to the extremes without you even realizing it. You could wonder “why”, but this is just a way for them to sense your level of commitment.

Bitter Sweet Pill

They are the best in delivering bad news to you  and outstanding in ensuring that you handle your setback well. They take care to deliver the bad news in a way that is palatable to you. The reverse is true as well. If, for some reason, you are brimming with arrogance, they will quietly restore your sense of equanimity.

Step in and Let go

They also have this unique sense of when to step in and when to let go. They will never set you up for failure nor they will lead the path to your success.  Like Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, got tired of explaining all the flavours of Yoga to Arjuna and had to reveal his Vishwaroopa to make Arjuna act,  mentors know when to step in and do what is necessary to get you out of your impasse. However, like Krishna, they will never fight your battle. They will let you fight as they are aware, irrespective of the result, you shall emerge stronger.

So, why do they do this ? That is one question that I have struggled to find an answer.

Why do they take an interest in your success,  possibly more than their own success ?

I am reminded of the quote from John Wooden

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

In my view, mentors are concerned more about their character.

Irrespective of the answer, let us celebrate this tribe.

It is a good question to ponder.

Who are your mentors  and how have they affected you ?

If you are wondering what makes good mentees, I will write about that shortly as well.

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)