Books that celebrate mentorship
One helping hand can change the world. It could come from a parent or a coach, a teacher, an employer or someone unexpected.
If you’ve achieved any kind of success, made any kind of a difference, chances are that there was someone there for you who believed in you, guided you, inspired you, pushed you to try a little harder, reach a little higher and hang in there when the going got tough.
That’s the central theme behind actor Denzel Washington’s new book, “A Hand to Guide Me,” which pays tribute to role models who make a difference in a young person’s life.
Washington’s debut book is an anthology of touching and inspiring reflections from 73 notable people he refers to as “ordinary folks from ordinary beginnings, accomplishing extraordinary things.”
“If there’s a bottom line to this group, it’s that all of them have achieved a significant level of success in their chosen field and that all of them have overcome a hardship or two. Whatever it is they set out to do, and however unlikely it might have seemed, they made it happen - with a little bit of help along the way.”
The personal stories come from legends and leaders including Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali, Bob Woodward and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few among many others who share heartfelt examples of the mentors who helped them sometime in their lives.
Gymnast Dominique Dawes tells how she learned the value of hard work and discipline from her coach.
After a motorcycle accident disabled her, actor Daryl Mitchell learned to continue to enjoy life with advice from fellow actor Christopher Reeve.
Actor Omar Gooding credits his brother Cuba for being there for him, and also applauds his high school acting teacher for inspiring him and his brother to pursue theatre.
Gloria Steinem describes how she saw a commitment to women’s rights in the novels of Louisa May Alcott.
One of my favorite messages comes from Cal Ripken Jr. who grew up in a baseball family. The first 14 years of his life his father was a minor league manager he called “the Encyclopedia of Baseball.” His dad always was the person whose advice was the standard by which he measured all other’s. His father was there at the ballpark for his 2,131st consecutive game in 1995, the night he broke Lou Gehrig’s record.
“That was a great, great night, but it was never about the streak. . .It was all about my dad really. . .his honest and hardworking approach to the game. . .It all flowed from my father, Cal Ripken Sr.”
Besides being an Academy Award-winning actor, Denzel Washington is the national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He pledged his proceeds from the sale of his book to the organization that he credits with his own “first push outside of home.”
“I think we all have a responsibility to give something back, to leave this world a better place for our having been here. If you ask me, being successful means helping others. . .it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about what you’ve done with those accomplishments.. . .what you’ve given back.
Washington’s book is a nice read, sentimental and thought-provoking. It made me appreciate and cherish the memories of the special, unique people from my own childhood.
If you like “Chicken Soup for the Soul”-type motivational books, this one’s for you. The library also has on a special display other books that celebrate mentorship and role models, such as: “Letters to Sam, A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss and the Gifts of Life” by Daniel Gottlieb; “The Right Words at the Right Time” by Marlo Thomas and “Wisdom of our Fathers: Letters from Daughters and Sons” by Tim Russert.