Guru or Mentor?

I was chatting to somebody who wanted to feature me on their podcast. They wanted to do a little introduction about me for their audience. They introduced me as a wealth guru.

And it kind of made me want to step back a little bit rather than stepping forward.

I was intrigued by this response within me. I’d always understood the word guru to mean teacher, an expert or a master of a certain field of knowledge. Wealth is such a huge, deep subject that in no way, do I consider myself an expert on it but I do proudly call myself a mentor for financial wellness. I’m very comfortable with saying to people I mentor that, I’ve created and forged my own path to wealth, which as well as money encompasses wealth in the other areas of life. (There are eight forms and aspects of wealth, which you can read about in a separate blog).

It made me want to examine and look at the root of the two words. I’m fascinated with the etymology of words. Here’s what I discovered. I learned today that the word guru, is derived from two Sanskrit words, GU, meaning darkness and Ru, meaning dispeller of that (darkness).

The syllable gu means shadows

The syllable ru, he who disperses them,

Because of the power to disperse darkness the guru is thus named.


Although the word guru has come to mean, a teacher, guide or an expert actually according to ancient texts, (Advarataraka Upanishad) Guru was more than a teacher. In Sanskrit guru means the one who dispels the darkness and takes you towards the light (of knowledge.) As a student learning about a particular subject, yes, you can take it that the guru is the person that takes away the darkness that is there about that subject, the lack of knowledge, if you like, and sheds a light, enables you to become more knowledgeable about that subject. More than just teaching, a guru shares their experiential knowledge as much as they do their practical and literal knowledge. And they exemplify what they are teaching. They are a source of inspiration and can be a spiritual guide as well. So that’s the word guru.

As mentor, when I looked at it, that’s actually what I do. I do bring my experience and I do share the knowledge that I’ve gained as a result of my experience, both the practical, and the experiential. I love sharing little stories and anecdotes gathered over my 20 years experience in business. The kind that often lead to a light bulb going on people’s heads so they can relate to what I’m saying in relation to their circumstances. They can see their present moment, in what they’re hearing from me about my personal experience.

When I looked at the etymology of the word mentor, it has Greek origins. Mentor was the name of the advisor, in Homer’s Odyssey. I believe that the term was used to describe his role in the life of young Telemachus. He was a trusted counsellor and guardian. So, it has evolved to signify a wise counsellor, a guide, somebody you can bounce around ideas with.

A business mentor who has experience of running a business, (other than the business of mentoring) in their past or present can be invaluable for a business owner wanting to go to a new level. It’s just such a juicy fascinating topic. Mentors bring their own experiences and wisdom, to a situation. To offer some guidance as to, the possible routes that you could take next. Certainly in my role as a mentor, I try not tell people what to do, but instead I hope I give them very relatable examples, where they can see themselves from another perspective.

I feel that in my work as a business mentor, I’ve certainly gone to levels of awareness that I never thought I was going to go to with a client. Being able to go to these depths I have realised that the thing that keeps people stuck in a place in their business, stuck in a place financially, can be related to something that their parents said to them when they were younger, a comment that was maybe just made in passing, but really had taken deep root within their psyche and was now affecting their ability to succeed, their ability to have the life that they want. There are so many deep levels connected to the way your ancestral lineage was, whether people were told that they were of a certain social status and would never rise above that. And of course, now we have the ability to rise above the family that we are born into because of everything around us.

But sometimes we are still stuck in the past and not just our own past, but the past of our ancestors, many generations back.

In that context, I’ve certainly gone to these deep depths with business owners that I mentor and, helped shed some light on, what is keeping them stuck in the darkness, if you like, what’s keeping them stuck at a certain level in business.

So yeah, now, I think I am comfortable with embracing the word guru..

As a mentor I have gone down a road which I never imagined I would. I am definitely shedding light and holding deep conversations with business owners about how to free themselves from their past and how, what happened in their past, what they were told, what they experienced, doesn’t need to define their future. But how it can be used that to create the future that they want for themselves.

In order to do that, they need to, first of all uncover what it is that’s, holding them back, accept it and not bury it.

Because when you bury something, it’s like one of those Jack in the boxes, it will spring back open when you least expect it to and cause you to step back. We talk about how we are not going to bury something that we uncover. In fact, we very much just deal with it and acknowledge that it belongs in the past and it doesn’t serve the mission that we have in life and in business at this moment in time. Truthfully, after looking into the etymology og the two words I think I’m getting comfortable with embracing the word guru as well as mentor.

What are your thoughts on the two words and the definitions and what your experience of a guru is and what your experience of a mentor is. In today’s world you hear of internet gurus. You hear of gurus of social media. You hear of gurus of marketing , gurus. And, and I think in this context those gurus are very much, people who have a lot of knowledge about the subject. It is very much the teacher role and you can learn from them.

But what are your thoughts on the fact that a Guru is the person who helps to dispels the darkness and takes you towards the light? I’d love to know.

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