• Humaira Ahmed

Found it!!! The alternate to "Mentor"

This post is written by Humaira Ahmed

And, it's even better!

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that the word ‘mentor’ initially had become a trigger because I assumed that the word was derived from ‘men’ who ‘tutor'. And then I learned that the word comes from ‘mental’ - meaning that of mind. A mentor stimulates the mind of the mentee and helps them think and make decisions for themselves.

Last week, I had the privilege of being on a zoom call with Ian Chisolm, Partner at The Roy Group, an executive leadership and coaching agency. He brings a wealth of experience in the domain of mentorship and works with institutions like MIT for their mentorship service.

Naturally, I shared with Ian about the revelation I had had about the word ‘mentor,’ to which he paused, and shared that indeed the word mentor does not come from men who are tutors, however, it is the name of a man.


So then we talked about the origin of the word Mentor.

You may have heard of Odysseus - the legendary hero in Greek mythology. When Odysseus was leaving for the Trojan War (pretty big deal!), he decided to have Mentor (his old friend) in charge of his son Telemachus. 

Now, there is the twist in the story! And it is a woman!! Her name is Athena! 

Athena is described as “Daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, purposeful battle, and the womanly arts.” I love the sound of that, personally!

When Odysseus was gone, Athena would visit Telemachus disguised as Mentor. Athena worked hard to provide protection and wisdom to both Odyseus and Telemachus. She fought alongside them in the war. And most importantly, she was the one to instill confidence and strength into Telemachus and helped him in his journey into leadership. So, she was the actual MENTOR (the term we have come to accept in today’s world).

So there you have it - the herstory about the real Mentor.

I think we have a pretty clear winner on what should be a replacement for the word Mentor, don’t you think? 

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