Yoda from Star Wars.
Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid.
Rafiki from The Lion King.
This is a list of mentors – those all-knowing teachers who whipped our heroes into shape, and taught them to rise to the challenge.
We have a special kind of love for mentors, because they offer us something we all need:
A ticket to the more bad-ass version of ourselves.
Yoda didn’t just teach Luke how to be a better Jedi – he taught us how to be a better us.
That’s something all of us crave.
Mentors are key to unlocking our potential as adventurers. Whether it’s learning to hike further, be more confident in the wilderness, or become a better photographer, having a mentor is a key step towards you kicking adventure’s ass.
Not that adventure did anything wrong.
You know what we mean.
Here's Why You Need a Mentor
Hiker See, Hiker Do
When I was a kid I wanted to be a good snowboarder. So I read as many magazines and blogs as I could, trying to get down the basics.
They helped, but it wasn’t until my cousin took me to the hill and showed me how to position my body, which way to lean, and even how to carry my snowboard that I really got it. Until then it was all just words.
Humans are great imitators - it’s how we learn. The way we do it is by watching someone perform the skill we want to learn, and absorbing as many details as we can – even if they might seem unimportant.
Watching an experienced hiker, you learn subtleties like where to step, when to stop for rest, how to watch for animals, and which brand of scotch to drink afterwards.
It all has an effect, and when you can successfully imitate the smallest parts of your mentor’s routine, you’ll feel a lot more confident stepping into the wilderness next time, whether your mentor is there or not.
Avoid the Potholes
Mentor’s are usually old, and have the musty smell of an unaired basement.
Alright, they don’t always smell.
But one thing is for sure: they’re more experienced than you.
And those past experiences are what make your relationship with them so valuable. Everything they’ve learned the hard way is right there in front of you, so you can learn it the not-as-hard way.
When you find a good mentor to adventure with, listen to them closely. Every trip they were under prepared for, every mis-packed bag, every mistake turned injury becomes knowledge you can tap into.
And it saves you from making the same mistakes.
That’s why people with mentors are able to fast track success, and tend to advance more quickly in their careers.
You’ll still have to improvise, but by listening to your mentor you can shield yourself from a lot of unnecessary blunders.
It’s less lonely
There are things you can learn on your own, such as:
1) How to cook pasta
2) How to spend 9 hours putting together a chair from Ikea (for the second time).
Outdoor adventuring alone is okay too, but at least in the beginning, having a mentor can cut down on the isolation factor, hugely increasing your chances of keeping it up long-term.
Not only will they teach you things, but they’ll keep you accountable, by calling at 6am before a hike when the night before you went 5 shots over your usual tequila limit.
Having a work-out buddy has already been proven to keep you exercising longer, and it’s the same for adventuring. Get yourself a mentor and turn your adventuring from a 2-month phase into an actual lifestyle change.
But most importantly, you need somebody to hold the selfie stick.
Choose Carefully – But in the End, Just Choose
Your mentor is going to have a big impact on your style, so think carefully about who you give this role to. Of course you want someone who is more skilled than you, but hikers training for a mountain race might be too much if you’re just starting out.
On the other hand, if they can’t beat you up the hill or at least teach you something along the way, they aren’t really a mentor.
The key is to find someone who treats you as an equal.
Maybe not in skill set, but they need to realize they were you once; inexperienced and a bit unsure. People usually look at relationships in terms of authority, which puts your mentor above you since they know more.
This probably sounds natural, but in reality, a mentor that accepts you as their equal and knows you might even exceed them one day will have a much better impact on the adventurer you become.
Your Mentor Can Be Anyone
Even someone you’ve never even seen in person.
Your mentor could be a TV personality, or someone who you only know through Youtube videos or their photos on Instagram.
For example, our Editor’s mentor is someone he’s never met - Joe Rogan.
(As a bonus, here's a video of him using some adult language to chat about life purpose.)
What matters is knowing enough about their mission to make it your own, to understand their philosophy enough that you could stop in any situation and ask yourself, “What would so-and-so do.”
It’s Still All on You
The thing about having a mentor is, it’s still on you to do the learning.
Your mentor is like a well, and you’ve got to be the bucket. Or, carry the bucket. There's definitely a bucket involved.
Don’t count on them to come fill it up for you everyday. You have to want it, and you have to be active in your search for it - it being knowledge, and days of sweaty, glorious adventure.
As Dr. Lickerman from Psychology Today points out, “It's the attitude of the disciple that creates the mentor-disciple relationship, not the attitude of the mentor.”
Having said that, find yourself a good mentor, and they’ll help you enjoy the whole process so much more, while improving your success faster than you ever could on your own.
Since we’re kind of on a roll with the quotes thing, we’ll leave you with one more.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”