Obi wan Kenobi hands Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber and urges, “You must learn the ways of the force”; Morpheus presents Neo a red pill and a blue pill, where the red pill offers, “To stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”; with a bit more a fun loving vibe, Timon and Pumbaa introduce Simba to the jungle with “Hakuna Matata”.

In film, these figures serve as the mentor. In last week’s blog I raised the idea of reconnecting with colleagues that have supported you with their encouragement, these are the Leis, Hans, Trinitys and Nalas. The mentors, Obi, Morphs, Tim and Pum – have all acted as a guide and advisor, showing the hero the way.

A mentor differs from the colleague by offering a suggested path or an instruction. In coaching (executive style – not stopwatchy ones) circles, instructing is rare. Coaches empower you, typically providing you with a framework for you to make your own choice. A mentor is uniquely placed because they often have specific experience and so are burnished with lessons from a similar path, a few steps ahead of you and with wisdom that comes with endeavour.

Mentor advice is a gift, one for you to take or not. They can offer wonder and marvel as well as a specific route to more fulfilment or to safety. Rarely are the options easy but the very nature of having a vicarious voice is often enough to embolden you to take up a challenge. They show us that the path ahead is possible and attainable and in that way also show us that they believe in us and that’s critical in us developing the confidence to move forward. Don’t forget that belief that someone had in you.

We’d be nowhere without mentors. Who have been your Obi-wans*?

“You have taken your first step into a larger world.” Obi wan Kenobi, A New Hope


*Colin Clegg, Peter Keen, Jo Doust, Ken van Someren, Rachel Ingham btw


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About steveingham

Dr Steve Ingham is one of the UK’s leading figures in sport and one of the world’s leading performance scientists. He is steeped in high performance and has been integral to the development of Britain into an Olympic superpower. He has provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Steve has coached Kelly Sotherton's running for heptathlon and to 4x400m Olympic medal winning success. Steve has worked at the English Sports Council British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport, where Steve was the Director of Science and Technical Development, leading a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB. Ingham holds a BSc, PhD and is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Steve is author of the best selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’, discussing and inspiring the importance of learning and adapting to reach our maximum potential. Steve established Supporting Champions with the ambition of helping ambitious people to find a better way of creating high-performance. Steve hosts the Supporting Champions Podcast on sharing his pursuit of understanding and exploration in performance.

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