The Japanese word sensei is often translated as teacher. If you take apart the kanji, it means “[one who was] born before.” The implication is that this person has something to teach because they’ve been there and done it before you. It doesn’t mean they are inherently superior.
Worship Smothers Growth
For the last forty years or so, there have been lots of pop-culture ‘gurus’ who propagate their teachings as an image or product. They fall in love with themselves as the conduit, and insist they have all the answers. At their core, they are narcissists. Narcissists don’t have friends or students; they have slaves. Bad teachers will spoon-feed you answers in exchange for your worship, and never ask you grow or understand.
Growth Replaces Worship
A true mentor/student relationship is based on reciprocity. The master applies his intuition, skill, and careful listening to help the student grow. The student asks new questions incessantly, helping the master re-examine his craft and exercise new levels of patience. With no ego or worship on the line, both feel free to exercise their craft. You wind up progressing and co-creating together. A good mentor doesn’t want you to be them, they want you to be you. A great teacher will help you reach the next level. Learn well — that teacher will be you sooner than you think.
“Don’t follow in the footsteps of old poets, seek what they sought.”
“Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.”
― Bruce Lee