A Brief Note on: Mentor

The word mentor generally refers to a person who is well-experienced and thus can give good advice to others, especially younger people.


The etymology of mentor

This word has its roots in the epic poem of the ancient Greek, Odyssey. A man named no other than “Mentor” was a good friend to the hero, Odysseus. In his old age Mentor was placed in charge of the son of Odyssey, Telemachus. Mentor served as a “mentor,” and gave guidance to his friend’s son.


The name of this man came to be used as a general term mentor, with the basic meaning of “someone who gives advice.” On the other hand “someone who receives advice from a mentor” is referred to as mentee (see Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary.)

Telemachus and Mentor (1699 image)


A famous case of mentor/mentee relationship

There is one famous case of mentor/mentee relationship: the relationship between one of the cofounders of Apple, late Steve Jobs, and one of the cofounders of Facebook (now renamed as Meta Platforms, Inc.), Mark Zuckerberg.


An article titled “When Facebook's founder struggled during the early days, he turned to one of his mentors, Steve Jobs, for advice” (https://www.inc.com/ilan-mochari/visit-india-creativity.html) reveals that Zuckerberg once had hit a tough patch in his early days and went to see Jobs to ask for advice.


The reply from his mentor was, as Zuckerberg recalls it, that “I should go visit this temple in India that he had gone to early in the evolution of Apple, when he was thinking about what he wanted his vision of the future to be.” As you can see here Jobs served as a mentor for Zuckerberg and provided the young man with a guidance in his own style.


Mentors in Japan

We have seen so far that mentorship was born in the ancient Greek and utilized in the West. Recently, it has started gaining popularity in Japan as well. For example, some companies in Japan today implement the so-called “mentor system,” in which employees who are more experienced serve as mentors and give advice to new recruits.


It is important to note that the mentors are expected to help new employees in various ways, not only at work, but also with their private matters or mental health when necessary. In fact, the advice from Jobs to Zuckerberg, “to visit a temple in India,” was quite a spiritual one. 


In the past mentorship was a part of OJT (on the job training), but recently, the role of mentors has been prescribed more specifically. The practice of mentorship is expected to grow more widely in Japan as well.


Mentors in NLP

In NLP, you are advised to choose a mentor when you don’t have enough resources in making a choice, deciding to do or not to do something, or solving problems.


Your mentor should be someone who can give you practical and spiritual advice, such as historical figures, legendary persons in myths, your teacher, your boss, or your friends. 







この逸話から「メンター」ということばが生まれ、「個人的に指導する人」の意味をもつようになりました。ちなみに、指導を受ける人のことはmentee(メンティー)と呼びます(参考:Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary)。


英語圏ではmentorということばをよく耳にします。メンター/メンティー関係にあった有名人としては、Apple社の創業者スティーブ・ジョブズ氏と、Facebook社(現Meta Platforms, Inc.)の創業者マーク・ザッカーバーグ氏との関係を挙げることができるでしょう。


“When Facebook's founder struggled during the early days, he turned to one of his mentors, Steve Jobs, for advice.” (悩みのうちにあったFacebook創業者は、彼のメンターの一人であるスティーブ・ジョブズに助言をもとめた)という文言がサブタイトルとなっている記事(参考:https://www.inc.com/ilan-mochari/visit-india-creativity.html)によると、Facebook社を立ち上げた当初、困難にぶち当たっていたザッカーバーグ氏はジョブズ氏のもとを訪ね、助言をもとめたそうです。