We all need mentors. Mentors grant us access to their superior experience and wisdom. But even they are limited to what they can teach you; they still have a lot of living to do, successes and failures to endure.
Just as we may have living mentors, why not have deceased mentors?
Some already do in the form of music. A fan can recite every Bob Marley or Bob Dylan song on command and claim their music has had a significant impact on their life, their worldview. But why not with other historical figures, and not through music, but through books?
Anything you are currently going through today, chances are someone has probably already endured and written about it.
We can all have our own deceased mentor. Like Ryan Holiday has Montaigne, like Tim Ferriss has Seneca, or how Robert Greene has Napoleon Bonaparte. Find your own deceased mentor; a historical icon that has always piqued your interest, that significantly influenced the world in a way that is important to you. Learn and apply the lessons from their life to yours.
For every great historical icon there are several well written books about them. Do your research. Read all you can about them; their works, biographies, accomplishments and just as important, their failures. Then read about the context they lived in. It’s amazing how many similarities you can find with someone who is centuries removed from you.
Then finally, connect the dots. Find a way on how you can apply the lessons your deceased mentor has taught you, and apply them to your own life, today.
You’ll catch yourself befriending your deceased mentor. Building that connection. You’ll start reading about their life, have a question pop into your mind, and then have it answered a few pages later. You will go through your day to day routines, facing a problem or situation, and thinking what would ______ do?
Balance the time you invest with your living mentors with deceased mentors. Buy the most popular or highest rated book on any historical icon you find interesting, read and take notes, and allow time for frequent pause and reflection.
After all, history often repeats itself. Why not learn from the greatest mentors history has to offer?