3 Qualities of a Good Mentor Who Will Help You Find Yourself

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Way of Integrity" by Martha Beck. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the qualities of a good mentor? Should you look for someone who helps you know how or what to think?

Martha Beck contends that we fall out of alignment with our true selves by internalizing false beliefs from our culture. She argues that the path to realignment begins with discovering and recognizing these false beliefs. She advises you to find an integrity mentor to help you on this journey.

Keep reading to discover what Beck thinks you should look for when selecting an integrity mentor.

Qualities of a Good Mentor

Beck argues that many people first discover their false beliefs by encountering a role model or teacher who can help them get in touch with their nature. These could be actual teachers, but they could just as easily be authors whose books you pick up or people you stumble upon unexpectedly. She writes that you can recognize a good “integrity mentor” because they possess certain traits. Here are the three qualities of a good mentor, according to Beck.

1. They aren’t bound by cultural rules. Beck explains that your mentor has already freed themselves from the false cultural beliefs that keep you out of alignment. You can tell this because they won’t follow your culture’s rules. For example, if you work in an office where the unspoken rule is that no one is allowed to contradict the boss when they’re wrong, this mentor will still freely speak their mind. Your integrity mentor might even seem rude or antisocial at first, but ultimately, their actions will show you new ways of thinking.

2. They will captivate you. Beck argues that you will be naturally drawn to this person. You might find that your attention naturally gravitates toward them in social settings, or you might find yourself thinking about them more than you usually think about someone you just met. This could be a strong sign that you want to be more like this person or that they have found something in their life that you are looking for in yours.

3. They will put you in touch with your nature. Beck explains that an integrity teacher isn’t someone who tells you how or what to think but who “wakes you up” to your own nature—your innate ability to sense truth and know your own feelings and desires. 

While discovering an external teacher may be an important step in your process, Beck argues that the ultimate goal is to get in touch with your inner teacher. This is the part of you that intuitively knows what you need to grow and come back into alignment with yourself. A mentor can simply help you along the way.

What Kind of Integrity Teacher Do You Need?

Beck intentionally leaves her concept of an integrity teacher broad in order to accommodate a wide range of experiences. However, it’s worth considering the different types of teachers you might encounter and how each type could contribute to your growth. Psychologists define three distinct roles that could fall under this umbrella.

1. A role model is a person you respect and emulate, but may never meet in person. This could be a public figure such as a musician, athlete, or politician. You learn from role models mainly by trying to follow their example and recreate their successes in your own life. A role model in integrity could be someone who has similarly struggled with your particular conflicts between culture and nature, found a solution for themselves, and publicly shared their story.

2. A mentor is someone with whom you build a long-term relationship and turn to for guidance and advice. A mentor is usually someone older and more experienced who can guide you through your personal growth. A mentor in integrity could be someone you talk to about specific yearnings of your personal nature or specific fears about running afoul of your cultural values.

3. A coach works with you to build and practice an important skill. Coaches are usually experts in this specific skill with a knack for teaching. Relationships with coaches tend to have clear boundaries of time and investment, and often involve a financial transaction. A coach in integrity could be someone like a professional therapist who you hire to help you practice listening to the yearnings of your nature or making small adjustments in your life to live with greater integrity.
3 Qualities of a Good Mentor Who Will Help You Find Yourself

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  • How to know if you're living in alignment with your true self
  • How messages from our culture tell us to chase things we don't really want
  • The four stages of realigning your life to find happiness

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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