“42,” the new movie about Jackie Robinson and breaking the color barrier in baseball , is a good example of the power of mentoring. Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers. sought out Jackie Robinson because he saw in him the right combination for bringing Negro athletes into baseball—athletic excellence and the “guts” to withstand prejudice and unfair treatment. More importantly, Rickey stood by Jackie every step of the way, encouraging him and providing whatever support he could to help Jackie succeed in realizing this dream.
Sometimes it is a parent or a caring aunt or uncle or grandparent, a teacher, a coach, a pastor, or an employer who provides the mentoring. Sometimes it’s a volunteer for an organization such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Sometimes it’s a cop or a probation officer, or a sponsor who takes on the task of nurturing another person moving along a dangerous path.
The most effective mentoring requires unselfish support with no strings attached. Branch Rickey admitted to Jackie Robinson that he had chosen to mentor him to correct a past lack of passion for doing the right thing and standing up for those who were victims of prejudice , as well as a desire to build his team. While he hoped his experiment would work, there was little he could do but stand by and wait to see what Robinson would do. To mentor is not to control. To be mentored is to be humble enough to accept help, sometimes leaving one’s comfort zone to achieve a higher goal.