It's important to first understand what a Mentor/Guru is. By definition, a Guru (goo-roo) is a spiritual teacher. One who imparts initiation, one who leads a disciple to wisdom and self realization. A Mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behavior.
As you can see, there is very little difference in the roles and terms, but because of a slight difference in the definitions, I like to say that I have a Mentor-Guru-Friend. Not only has he been instrumental in my learning, we've also become friends through this journey.
What started as a network connection to go out occasionally on photo shoots with a fellow photographer quickly developed into a more meaningful relationship described below:
Friendship - First and foremost my Mentor-Guru is someone I also call a friend. He has never once asked for anything in return for the times he's helped me. We hangout sometimes with a purpose and sometimes just to catch up. He is honest and thoughtful in his feedback when asked and gives it when I don't (smile), but that's what friends are for and I appreciate him for that.
Patience - I'll admit sometimes it takes a minute for the light bulb to go off in my head when it has come to learning photography. The terms and concepts we've discussed have sometimes been confusing, but I know immediately he recognizes my "deer in headlight" look when he takes the conversation down to a more "dummified" level allowing me time to catch on or when he's volunteered to personally help me through a challenge we've discussed.
Give and Take - While I initially thought I could never give back or share anything with him that compares to what he's done, I've learned that the relationship has been equally inspiring to him as well. Even though you may be on a different level than one your helping, and your not so "above" yourself, the experience can also be fun, encouraging and inspirational as well for the Mentor-Guru. The concept is similar to learning through the eyes of a child. Sometimes children and students see or do things differently, that even as a teacher/master, you can incorporate into your own style or take away something new. On occasion when he's asked for "my" opinion, I cannot even tell you the honor I've felt to be able to help.
Mysterious Wisdom - Some conversations have been similar to that of the Luke Skywalker and Yoda...yes, he'll impart some wisdom and leave me with no answers and I'm left thinking "what in the world does that mean?" I honestly believe he does this because he's learned that I'm not one to be left in the dark for long and these conversations encourage me to seek out the knowledge, through Google, books or more practice and this self learning always brings with it a light bulb moment that helps me see more clearly. This is the Guru - he leads me to wisdom and self realization.
Trust - I trust his advice when given...okay, now I do! In the beginning, I'll admit I was a little rogue and felt that Google could provide me with more impartial knowledge, but would quickly have to admit "you were right" and listen to his "I told you so's" in laughter.
Inspirational - He keeps me inspired to learn more. No sooner than I've caught on to one thing, he is encouraging me to learn something else. I can hear the phrase ringing in my head..."Okay, now you need to..." This has made the journey fun and interesting and pushed me to push myself.
Leader - Not only has he been helpful and inspiring to me, but he shares this with everyone. He's comfortable in who he is and the skills he possess, and there is no fear in sharing what he knows with others who are genuine in wanting to learn. A Leader shares, learns and for that is respected.
To those reading this post, I encourage you to find a mentor who is willing to help you in your journey, whether it be photography, a craft, or a profession, the relationship is a rewarding one if you find the right person.
To my Mentor, Guru and Friend...I say Thank You for making this journey fun!
Unveiling in Gratitude,