Author: Vangelis Katsampouris
MBPsS, PhD Health Psychology researcher
Honorary assistant clinical psychologist

Translator: Vasiliki Achladioti

I like to believe that they are either in Davelis Cave in Penteli, or under the plane tree of Hippocrates in Kos. Or perhaps, paraphrasing the popular Greek folk song “mentors are gone, they were hit by the train”, did they become an endangered species? As the saying goes in my village, this is “food for thought”.

According to mythology, Mentor was either a character of Odyssey, whom Odysseus entrusted his own house to when he left for the Trojan war, or the son of Hercules.  In the work of the French writer François Fénelon, Les aventures de Télémaque (The adventures of Telemachus, 1699), Athena is presented as a mentor of Telemachus, who gives him friendly advice in order for him to find his father. The Goddess Athena mentor of Telemachus, Aristotle of Alexander the Great, Kostis Mitsotakis of Eleftherios Venizelos… In Triantafyllidis’ dictionary it is defined as “characterization for a wise counsellor and friend” and in Bampiniotis’ dictionary as “a person who guides and advises someone, in order to make right choices”.

In essence, where are the mentors nowadays? Around us… They surround us, they advise us, they support us, they protect us, they guide us. They share with us their personal experiences so that we won’t make the same mistakes. But as true reactionary beings, we have managed to judge them, question them, oppose them, argue or even fight with them – before we realize that they have instilled knowledge, ideals, values, judgement and education into us.

Furthermore, do we have one mentor, two, or three? Is it one of our parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teachers, professors, coaches? Is it one of those who inspire us with their works, e.g. heroes, philosophers, historians, politicians, athletes, actors, musicians, poets, painters? Do they have a certain age, that is are they always older than us? Are we ourselves mentors for others? Such a heavy burden in the last case!

So, while you are struggling will all these questions (and the hundreds millions problems), the mentors-geniuses of the social networks appear as “dei ex machina”, who are making you flip out! Those who are stepping on the undeniable right to freedom of speech and are saying this and that. Guys, you are just expressing your opinion and nothing more. You aren’t advising! In order to advise, you ought to feel the other’s aura, to take them by the hand, to show them some things and then let them seize their way. Besides, nowadays, there are many people who practice mentorship as a profession.

What they essentially do is…

  • sharing their own abilities, skills and knowledge
  • keeping a positive attitude and behavior
  • listening and being enthusiastic
  • guiding and providing constructive feedback
  • receiving the necessary respect and setting their own goals
  • weighing and assessing the others’ opinions and motivations
  • and motivating

… but all in their own field of specialization.

Well, no! My own mentor didn’t work that way. Perhaps he had all the prerequisites, but he took me by the hand and let me choose. He was a simple, everyday Human being, whom if you meet in the street you might pay absolutely no attention to. And to prevent any misunderstanding, thankfully there are those who practice it as a profession. But somewhere we lost control…

Lastly, to become a little old-fashioned I do not know whether you are born or you become a mentor, an advisor, or at least that wise friend who guides so that the right decisions and choices are made. Several unanswered questions, for which I do not intend to give answers even if I had. However, I wanted to share this concern. And I insist on the initial question… Where are the mentors hidden, brothers?

One of my own mentors wasn’t hidden somewhere nearby… although he keeps on guiding me spiritually.

For this reason, the above lines are a tribute of honor, respect and remembrance to mister K.