The Mentors in Our Lives

The Chinese philosopher Confucius said ”三人行必有我师”. Literally, it means that among three people walking together, at least one of them can be my teacher. We can learn from just about anyone around us. From the friendly fishmonger at the market to your helpful neighbour, to the insurance agent friend, each person has their own unique wealth of knowledge and expertise awaiting others to tap on.

Of course, there are also the mentors who leave more permanent imprints in our lives. In September, we celebrate the dedication of teachers, who not only impart academic knowledge and skills, but also important values that shape our character. These are the people who guide us through the awkward teenage and young adolescent years. We might benefit from their advice and graduate with flying colours, or it might take years before their words of wisdom hit home. In any case, their stories stay with us for life.

At home, parents and older siblings are our very first teachers. Consciously or subconsciously, they impart to us many seemingly simple yet significant nuggets of knowledge. Life experiences, cultural insights, virtues, ethics, behaviours and more… we often mirror our loved ones. But there comes a time when we grow up and get a little too conceited. If we reel ourselves back in time, we could gather many useful life lessons and insights. If we ignore them and do not give our elders the respect they deserve, we will have to learn the hard way.

For those who are working, let us also not forget our bosses, supervisors or seniors, who share with us their experience relating not only to the job, but also important matters in life like work-life balance and helping you to get along with co-workers and clients. Good bosses will show you that no job is too trivial or undignified. Make use of the opportunities you are given, even if they are small, and you will open up many more doors.

As the world gets more connected and saturated with all sorts of information, having a strong moral foundation and being discerning of what you see and hear has never been more crucial. Some of the messages we received are negative and falsehoods, and if one is easily swayed, the outcomes can be disastrous. Just look at the examples of the young men and women who plot heinous crimes to harm their fellowmen. In times of doubt, if we are fortunate to have good role models and mentors in our lives, their teachings would help us to turn back up the right path.

So taking all the above into consideration, if we look around us, there is a virtually bottomless treasure chest of wisdom to be harvested. The million dollar question is, how can I benefit from it?

To be able to listen is a gift, and an often underrated one. These days many people are too preoccupied with proving themselves and defending their existing knowledge and accomplishments. If we are too close-minded to listen, we will never gain new insights and knowledge. So open your ears and refrain from trying to talk over others. The term mentor can potentially apply to anyone who crosses your path in the lifelong journey of learning.

On the hindsight, be mindful about your behaviour and the information you share. Refrain from acting recklessly or disseminating information without care for authenticity. You never know, someone might be looking up to you as a mentor.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.

Image from Pixabay

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