I really love how you captured the above thoughts, Stephen. I agree. Some of my most powerful mentoring relationships have been more personal and less formal. I really appreciate you bringing in this moment from The West Wing, a favorite show of mine as well. That story that Leo shares really does encapsulate mentorship in so many ways.
It reminds me of another story from the Jewish tradition about three village elders who went to visit a wise man who was passing through a nearby town. The elders spent the evening with the wise man — eating, chatting, and listening to his speak. Late in the evening when they were walking home, one of the elders apologized to the other two, saying,” Clearly, the wise man spent the entire evening just talking directly to me. I am sure that must have been a disappointment to you two.” One of the other elders stopped him, saying, “Certainly, you could see the wise man spent the entire evening, only speaking directly to me.” And finally, the third elder laughed at both men, stating, “Has your jealousy of me blinded you to the fact that the wise man only addressed me the entire evening?”
The story reminds me of how mentors are able to speak so directly to our souls, even when perhaps others feel their words were only and solely meant for them. I am sure, as a teacher, you have experienced this, Stephen. Many hear the same words, but they strike at one student or mentee (I like that word you mention) so much more powerfully than another.