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From Dumbledore to Yoda, they all failed miserably

When Hollywood invents fictional mentors, their sole purpose is to move the storyline forward. Movie mentors are caricatures with highly exaggerated features which seem primarily positive. But upon further review, they often do more harm than good. In this article, we will take a deeper look and poke a little fun at Hollywood’s attempt at mentorship. Hopefully, you can learn what NOT to do.

Dumbledore is dodgy and deceptive. His idea of mentorship is leaving cryptic clues, ignoring Harry, lying to him, or not telling him the whole truth. These traits in a real-life mentor would prove disastrous. The apprentice would never trust his mentor, and eventually, he will distance himself out of sheer frustration.

What to do instead: Tell the truth, don’t hide secrets behind half-truths and subterfuge.

Morpheus asks Neo to make a life-altering decision with no facts or background. He didn’t inform him that his choice would lead him into a battle with a superior enemy. He only offered riddles and cryptic clues. Morpheus said, “I can’t tell you what the matrix is. You will have to see it for yourself.” If your mentor asks you to choose which pill to take…RUN!

What to do instead: Empower your apprentice to make informed and increasingly wise decisions. Share everything you know with your apprentice gives them a higher probability of success.

Gobber (from How to train your dragon) threw new recruits into the dragon pens without training. He put them in danger to “teach them a lesson.” This works great to move a plot forward or create toughness in a character. But the emotional and possibly physical damage could be devastating if done in real life.

What to do instead: Walk into the dragon pen WITH your apprentice. Do hard things together in the beginning. Let your apprentice gain confidence while working alongside an expert. Then let them try things out for themselves.

Jiminy Cricket may be one of the worst mentors in cinematic history! He entered a mentorship relationship uninvited. He wanted a gold badge as payment before he even started the job. Didn’t tell Pinocchio’s dad that he had run away because he didn’t want to snitch on him. He let him hang out with unsavory characters. That sharply dressed little cricket was a presumptuous and arrogant little pest.

What to do instead: Basically, Do the opposite of what this little screechy nuisance did. Collaborate with your apprentice, don’t command them or compel them. Keep your focus on their well-being, not your own.

Yoda is a terrible communicator. Fortunately, he covers his inadequacies by being the cutest little pointy eared grandpa in the galaxy. But I still can’t remember. Does fear lead to anger and anger leads to hate? OR does fear lead to hate, and hate leads to suffering. At least he did give us one good piece of advice, “Pass on what you have learned.”

What to do instead: Practice honest and straightforward communication. If it helps you, compile your thoughts on paper before you pass them on verbally. Always allow your apprentice to ask valid questions so that you can clarify any misunderstandings.

Mr. Miyagi said, “No such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher. Teacher say, student do.” But, In Karate Kid II, we learn that Miyagi’s father taught both him and his evil nemesis, Sato. His own father mentored one good and one bad student with the same lessons, no less.

What to do instead: Don’t use empty platitudes, and don’t blame yourself when apprentices go astray. Just because one of your students makes terrible decisions doesn’t mean you are a bad instructor, and you should sell your dojo. Let your apprentices be responsible for their own choices.

Mr. Keating (from Dead Poet’s Society) inspired his students with rousing speeches, but rather than teaching responsibility and maturity, he fostered privilege and self-centeredness. It eventually led to a student’s suicide when the student didn’t get his way. Mr. Keating was more concerned with what his apprentices thought of him than how his influence affected their lives.

What to do instead: Baptize your instructions in real-life experiences. Share your victories with your apprentices but also your defeats. Teach them how to deal with disappointment and show them how to overcome failure.

Get more uncommon insights on mentorship in my book “Letters to an Apprentice” https://amzn.to/2SRHzD8

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