There I was, standing before our dog in the dusty gravel yard of my family farm. The breeze was blowing dust on my face. Standing with my dad’s coat on, hood up, and a stick wrapped in electrical tape tin foil, and spray-painted blue. I was ready to unleash the force on the terror wolf before me.
Like most kids of my generation, we experienced Star Wars from our parents. I remember watching The Empire Strikes Back on laserdisc. It blew my mind, every time I watched it.
Now, we have a new series of three movies. With any new rendition of a fan favorite, there has been pushback. But, I like them all. DON’T STOP READING! I will get to my point. But I love every single one of these movies. I can watch them over and over again.
Padawan, Knight, Master
I have always been fascinated with the relationship between Jedi Master and Jedi Apprentice. Whether it was Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan and Anakin, or Luke and Rey, there is something very intriguing about the relationship and what it means to me.
In my college years, there was a revelation of how important mentoring would be in my life. I didn’t realize this was the case in high school. Where several upperclassmen consistently encouraged me and poured their lives into mine.
But in college, it was different.
Shortly after a life-altering moment, there was a guy who was about ten years older than me who took me under his wing and mentored me. His teaching, encouragement, admonishment, and instincts helped shape me into the man I am today.
As a result, I took on the role of mentor similar to the one pattern to me. In college, it was one underclassman after another, at work today it is one less experienced rep after another. And others have mentored me over the years. All of these relationships and experiences have helped me understand the important parts of a mentor.
7 Keys to Mentoring Like A Jedi
Here are seven things I have learned about mentoring from the Jedi which apply to our lives. Each one comes with a quote from a Jedi Master. So, strap in, enjoy a little Star Wars geekiness and see what you can learn too.
1. It is Not About You
I used to think I had to be really awesome to be a mentor. Every one of mine has been really awesome to me. And so, my first few times I mentored others, I was all worried about myself. The questions in my head were always: How am I doing? Did I do that right? How did I look doing such and such? Just foolishness.
“We are what they grow beyond.” — Yoda, The Last Jedi
What I learned is it is all about the mentee. Not me. Because my greatness is about how great they are. And most of all, it is how much better they become than I am. I know I have done my job well when they exceed my abilities. Because now they have my abilities and their own.
2. Unconditional Support
Every mentor I have had this in common, they have unconditionally supported me. While we had boundaries and clear expectations. I knew if I had questions, or needs, or needed encouragement, they would be there.
“Remember… the force will be with you…” — Obi-Wan Kenobi, A New Hope.
Just like the astounding force, a mentor will be with you. Through the thick and thin, helping pick you up along the way. This has been the greatest and most difficult aspect for me as a mentor. Learning to be completely available. And while it is difficult at times, it is amazing when it yields something great.
3. Take Action
Whenever I came to a moment that needed action, my mentors have pushed me over the edge. Like Luke getting Rey to reach out into the force and Qui Gon teaching Obi-Wan the fine arts of being a Jedi, we all need a little push. After all, there is no try.
“No. Try not. Do… Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
The most important lesson I have learned about mentoring others is encouraging people to DO. Not just think about it. Or learn about something, but to do it. When you can help someone do something hard, or difficult, or unexpected of themselves, you can are truly giving them unconditional support.
4. It Will End Someday
Something very unexpected to me was that one day, a mentorship will end. My mentor will teach me all that he can and then I will move on to someone else. And he will too. It is the order of things.
“The fear of loss is a path down the dark side.” — Yoda, Revenge of the Sith
And it is ok. We will go on and when we see each other it will be an encouraging touchpoint. If we try to hold on to a mentor or mentee, we lose the importance of these relationships.
5. You are a Mentor, Like Your Mentor Before You
“Pass on what you have learned.” — Yoda, The Return of the Jedi
Over the last ten years, I have had seven or eight mentors. And in every case, shortly after I have started or ended a mentor relationship, I turned around and picked up someone to mentor myself. Almost always, I began sharing what I was learning with those around me.
While mentoring isn’t about me. It is not always one-sided. More often than not, we learn together. Something I share and something they share. This has happened to me in work environments a lot. I learn as much as I share.
6. You Need to Have Clear Focus
A lot of times, we will have different mentors for different things. I know when my wife and I first got married, we had a couple that mentored us in our faith and marriage. At the same time, I was receiving professional mentoring at work. In each one of these situations, we were focused on specific things. And these focused areas changed our lives.
“Your focus determines your reality.” — Qui-Gon Jinn, The Phantom Menace
When you are mentoring someone, you need to make sure there is a focus. Otherwise, you are just hanging out and potentially wasting each other’s time. Are you mentoring someone at work? Or are you someone through the church? Make sure you have clearly defined expectations and focus on your time.
7. You Will Always Be Helpful and Helped
The last thing to remember is that we will always help each other. No matter what. We don’t have to be lucky. We just have to have a purpose, create direction, and take action in our mentoring relationships. When we have those three things, we will intentionally work together and help each other grow.
“In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi, A New Hope
Now, we must remember that the Jedi were kind of dumb-dumbs in the end. They were great at mentoring each other but did not do well outside of their little group. So, when we are thinking about mentoring, we need to make sure we are encouraging inward thought and outward action.
This goes for both mentor and mentee.