Why does it feel so natural, even wonderful, to some of us to take a younger soul, a “protégé,” under our wings? Everyone knows that a mentor can profoundly affect your destiny. This world is no meritocracy. No matter how hard you work, without access to cultural capital, youll bump into brick walls. A mentor helps you navigate the maze, and opens doors for you, or better, teaches you how to spot where doors are hidden.
But mentorship isnt easy. Its an open-ended investment in the life of someone who is neither a friend nor relative. Its a commitment with no expectation of compensation, or even a guarantee of thanks. As a mentor, you must give of yourself unconditionally because your protégé needs the freedom to be self-absorbed, to flounder, to screw up, to disappear, and feel secure that youll be there for them when they return. And when your protégé succeeds, you must step aside, because the glory belongs to them, not you. What a thing to sign on for!