Finding the Right Mentor

The power of having someone who acts like a light in your life path is a true blessing. Read on to find out how to find a mentor that is right for you.

Finding the Right Mentor

The single most powerful piece of advice that I have learnt to implement in my early twenties is to find the right mentor. This may be someone from your workplace, educational institution, or a connection that you made through networking. Cycling through various placements, cadetships and internships as a pre-service teacher meant that I have had the pleasure of having different mentors who have passed on their wisdom. However, not all mentoring connections are made the same.

Being a reserved, yet diligent student, I always flew under the radar as teachers would easily overlook me. Entangled with an identity crisis in the first year of my teaching degree, I went from having red hair one week to being blonde the next. As I sheepishly walked into my tutorial that week, my tutor noticed the change and pointed it out. The feeling of being noticed, being seen in that infinitesimal moment, created a warmth in my soul. From then on, I made an effort to engage in class discussions and think critically about the subject. Over time, my tutor offered me opportunities outside the classroom to develop my leadership skills, provided guidance on how to navigate the profession and most importantly, genuinely believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

The mentoring relationship grew naturally, our mutual respect deepened, and the connection was continually being cultivated. Having someone who had walked the path before me allowed me to have confidence that I could to the same. The insights, knowledge and wisdom I have gained from them has been invaluable. It is unparalleled to what you could ever learn in the classroom. I was able to constantly develop and challenge myself, knowing that there was someone cheering me on, reassuring me in the right places and constantly wanting me to be successful in my own ways. It felt supportive, comforting and heartwarming. It felt right.  

Everything has a beginning. A mentoring connection is no different. Photo by Hester Qiang

Having the right mentor is not a modern revelation. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor who ruled from 161-180AD was introduced to philosophy by his teacher, Junius Rusticus. Not only did Rusticus teach him philosophical concepts, but helped Aurelius sees the importance of character, which as a ruler of his time, was of utmost importance for creating a just society. In his private reflections, which we now known as the book Meditations, he thanks Rusticus for ‘the recognition that I needed to train and discipline my character’ (Aurelius & Hays, 2002, p. 6). Here, we see that Aurelius not only identifies Rusticus as his teacher, but also acknowledges him as a mentor, someone who shows him to live intentionally and with a strong moral compass.

Later in Meditations, the emperor advises on looking into the minds of the wise and distinguishing what they do and don’t do. As an apprentice or mentee, we can learn quickly from imitating the correct actions, those rooted in moral and ethical good. I study my mentor and the decisions they make, how they handle hardships and how they treat themselves, as well as others. By pulling apart and analysing why they do the things they do, I can identify their values. Courage. Perseverance. Excellence. Humility. This is what I take into my own life.

‘For we must indeed have someone according to whom we may regulate our characters; you can never straighten that which is crooked unless you use a ruler’ - Seneca Photo by Drew Beamer

When you’re looking for the right mentor for you, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this connection force me to transform my mind and character?
  • Am I getting timely and objective feedback about my progress and performance?
  • Do I spend enough time with my mentor learning their craft?
  • Does this person best fit my needs and relate to my life’s purpose?
  • After gaining wisdom, how can I surpass them to achieve brilliance and mastery for myself?

It's been seven years now. I still have an immense amount of learning to do, but the growth that I have made in the past seven years has been incredibly humbling. Greene (2021) explores the notion of mentoring and apprenticeship in his book, The Daily Laws. He emphasises that ‘the right mentors know where to focus your attention and how to challenge you’ (Greene, 2021, p. 57), which is critical to effective improvement of oneself. We must seek to understand the value in having a mentor. There’s no financial or material gains, which often people seek out and value over gaining important life skills. This is where they are hindered in their growth. The intention of having the right person to guide you with mentorship is so that you undergo a ‘transformation of your mind and character’ (Greene, 2021, p. 53), which is ultimate commodity in the modern world. As a mentee, I have things to offer my mentor. Fresh ideas. Alternative solutions. A good eye for change. This unique dynamic allows both of us as individuals to continue thriving and live out our life’s purpose.


Aurelius, M., & Hays, G. (2002). Meditations: Marcus Aurelius. Modern Library.

Greene, R. (2021). The daily laws. Profile Books.

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