The Mentoring of: The Lion King

The Lion King is another movie that needs no introduction. Like Toy Story and Mary Poppins, it is a staple which holds together the childhoods of millions of people around the world. Based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the Lion King has launched two sequels, a remake, and a hit Broadway and West End musical that is still going strong today. It is also a great film that focuses on mentoring the young and moulding them into future leaders.

Heir to the Throne

Simba and Mufasa, voiced by Matthew Broderick and James Earl Jones.
No copyright infringement is intended.

The protagonist of the film is Simba, a young lion cub born to the king and queen of the pride. Being a child, Simba is of course impatient, hyperactive, and is easily distracted. His father, Mufasa, teaches Simba about his future role, claiming that “everything the light touches in our kingdom” and that one day “the sun will set on my time here, and will rise with you as the new king.” When Simba inquires on a patch of shadowed land, Mufasa orders his son never to go there.

Naturally, Simba is excited about being king and believes it means he can do whatever he wants, though Zazu, Mufasa’s right-hand bird, tries to correct him. Simba also disobeys his father and ventures into the shadowy land, the Elephant Graveyard, earning him a strong ticking off from Mufasa afterwards.

Straight away, the film shows that although his elders are teaching him valuable lessons, Simba chooses to not listen to them, instead listening to his uncle, Scar. Easily manipulated, Simba places himself in dangerous situations that later lead to a very dramatic event.

A Life of Lies

Timon and Pumbaa teaching Hakuna Matata to Simba.
No copyright infringement is intended.

Tricked by Scar into a gorge, Simba is faced with a stampede of wildebeests that ultimately ends in Mufasa dying after Scar betrayed him. Simba is traumatised by this and believes himself responsible, fleeing the pride lands, and getting found by Timon and Pumbaa, two best friends living in a jungle paradise and who teach him to let go of his worries. Unfortunately for him, Simba meets his childhood sweetheart Nala again and learns the tyranny Scar is imposing as king.

Although some might criticise how quickly Simba seemingly recovered from his father’s death, the fact he refuses to return and stop Scar shows how deep the event has effected him, damaging his mental state and is torn between doing what is right for him and right for the lion pride.

Simba is an echo of those who experience loss, especially at a young age. People will often chose to block out the harsh reality by throwing themselves into happier activities and distractions. However, not everyone can do this and fall into sadness and depression. It would be interesting to see what would have happened if Timon and Pumbaa hadn’t found Simba.

Long Live the King

Uploded by HD Clips.
No copyright infringement is intended.

With Rafiki the baboon’s assistance, Mufasa’s spirit comes to Simba, telling his son he has forgotten who he was and therefore forgetting his own father. Simba is more than who he currently is and must take his place as the rightful king. Simba is left now determined to face Scar, but he is also scared of his past. Rafiki offers some wise words; Simba can either run away from his past or learn from it.

This relates to many of us. All of us have made mistakes in the past, some bigger than others. They can be hard to accept, but learning from them can lead to success, because people learn from their mistakes, allowing them to become more confidence and intelligent. Simba’s mistake was that he fled, when he should have stayed.

Having learnt from his mistake, and with his new found courage and help of his friends, Simba topples Scar and claims the throne, leading the pride into a hopeful future and becomes a father, continuing the Circle of Life.


Simba returns in The Lion King 2019 remake.
No copyright infringement is intended.

The Lion King is a film that has created not only wonderful mentors, but also a brilliant young person (or should that be animal?). Simba’s adventure from childhood prince to adult king captures the experiences many go through in their early years.

It teaches us to always listen to your elders (apart from evil lion uncles), to never give into your mistakes, learn from the past and use it for the future, and never forget who you are or where you come from. Too many people fail to confront these lessons and this sets them up for failure.

But if you choose to forgive yourself, be proud of who you are, and take the advice of others and heed their warnings, you can become a leader the likes of which Mufasa and Simba were and are.

The Mentoring of: Toy Story

There isn’t a millennial alive that doesn’t know Toy Story. Not only did it capture the attention and imagination of millions of children, it provided valuable mentoring lessons that everybody must go through.

A Cowboy and a Spaceman

Woody and Buzz Lightyear played by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
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The series follows a host of different and unique characters, but it mostly focuses on two of them: Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Woody is introduced as a control freak and leader/mentor of the toys kept by Andy, the boy who plays with them and who Woody is devoted to making happy.

Buzz Lightyear, on the other hand, believes he is a space ranger completely and not a toy. He is also someone who likes to play the hero and quickly makes friends with his fellow toys. This makes Woody jealous because he feels his position as leader and Andy’s favourite is fading away.

Over the course of the films, it is Woody who learns more lessons than Buzz. He becomes more accepting to change and less judgemental, though his loyalty to Andy sometimes gets in the way of his development.

Time to Say Goodbye?

Stinky Pete, Jessie, and Bullseye in Toy Story 2.
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Woody is later stolen and at his kidnapper’s home, Woody meets Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete, all of whom are cowboy toys and have been waiting years for Woody to join them. It is here Woody discovers his origin, being the protagonist of an old black and white television programme called Woody’s Roundup. He also learns that his kidnapper is a collector and that all of the toys, including Woody, will be sold to a Japanese museum. Pete tells Woody that Andy will grow up soon. Isn’t it better to be somewhere where he can last forever and not worry about being forgotten?

Although tempted at first, Woody convinces them to return with him to Andy, though Stinky Pete ultimately tries to ensure they go to Japan. Back home, Woody tells Buzz his is no longer worried about Andy growing up and states that when the time does come, he will have his friends there to keep him company.

It finally happens years later and the toys are forced to say a sad farewell to Andy, though they are passed onto a girl named Bonnie who loves her toys and plays with them like Andy used to.

Left Behind

Lotso and his henchmen in Toy Story 3.
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Pixar is brilliant at inserting adult themes into their movies. Each one has an underlying message and in Toy Story, it’s the fact everybody grows up and gets rid of their toys. This is brought to attention in the second and third films through Jessie and Lotso, the villian in Toy Story 3.

For Jessie, she was purposely abandoned by her owner, unable to come to terms with this fact. However, unlike Jessie, Lotso was accidentally left behind and upon returning to his owner, learns he was replaced. This changed him into an uncaring and tyrannical toy, choosing to make other toys’ lives a misery instead.

These two characters echo similarities that happen to young people throughout the world. Whether on purpose or by accident, they are left behind across various forms, such as education. Whilst many will become like Jessie, some will go down Lotso’s path and will turn to crime, especially if they have nowhere to go and think prison is a better choice.


Woody and Buzz return in Toy Story 4 with friends old and new.
No copyright infringement is intended.

Toy Story is a film series that rarely happens and is full of great mentoring knowledge and life lessons. It teaches us about how teamwork is vital for success, that leadership must sometimes be shared to create a better place, to accept others no matter their differences, the loyalty between friends, and above all else, how change doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Randy Newman’s famous song You’ve Got a Friend in Me could easily be the theme song for Starting Point, though I think Disney and Pixar would have something to say about it.

Watch the four films and you might pick up advice that could not only help you but others too. So take your mentoring (as Buzz Lightyear would say) to infinity and beyond!

The Mentoring of: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is one of the most beloved Disney films of the age, still being repeated on television and loved by audiences old and young. You could say it is practically perfect in every way. And with a sequel released, it’s the perfect time for a blog about the mentoring that takes place during the film.

The Characters

Dick van Dyke and Julie Andrews as Bert and Mary.
No copyright infringement is intended.

So where should we start? Why not with the main characters?

The first of our mains are the Banks parents. Mrs Banks is a passionate member of the Suffragette movement with a rosy but dreamy personality. Mr Banks is a quite important member of the Bank of England. He is a man with no vision beyond the end of his nose, meaning he only sees and hears what he wants to, leading him to care little about everything else.

The children, Jane and Michael, are in fact not naughty like most nanny stories, but merely unhappy and want some attention from their parents, who are more focused on themselves. This has caused them to become problematic and leave a long trail of nannies who have quit.

Mary Poppins and Bert are the complete opposite of Mr and Mrs Banks. They focus wholeheartedly on the children. They aren’t strict or get angry, often having smiles on their faces and joining in with the activities. She and Bert act more like Jane and Michael’s parents than Mr and Mrs Banks.

The Lessons of Mentoring

Mary Poppins, Michael Banks, and Jane Banks. No copyright infringement is intended.

Here we will go into the lessons Mary Poppins teaches us and how they are similar and apply to mentoring in the current day.

As I said above, Jane and Michael want their parents’s attentions but are failing to get it. They are constantly being rebuffed by an emotionless father and campaigning mother. This draws stark parallels to modern day parenting. Many parents are forced to work full time jobs to make ends meet, therefore unable to spend time with their children and making nannies or grandparents look after them instead. As in Mary Poppins, this leads to children becoming unhappy and can eventually make them rebellious, doing anything to get attention, even if it gets in them trouble.

Mary Poppins acts as a mentor would to Jane and Michael. She is the person who gives the children the attention they crave. This is one of the jobs of a mentor, to listen to a mentee’s concerns and also allow them the chance to talk to someone, even if it’s just about their day. Bert does the same, happily entertaining the children and indulging their childish games.

During the song, A Spoon Full of Sugar, Mary Poppins knows the children will find it boring to clean their room. Therefore she makes the job a game, singing about how doing something fun will help make the job move along quicker. Again, mentors will often do this, finding fun ways to make their mentee more engaged and occupied. Even a simple thing such as singing whilst filling in job applications can quickly improve the situation.

This leads us to, perhaps, the song with the deepest meaning; Feed the Birds. You might not notice it the first time you hear it, but the song is about charity. The old woman sitting on the steps of St. Paul’s is a charity worker, the birds are the people in need, and the small act of paying for a bag of crumbs and feeding them is a little act of kindness.

Mentoring Mr Banks

Mr Banks played by David Tomlinson. No copyright infringement is intended

Before I finish this blog, I would like to touch on one final piece of the film. That of Mr Banks. As mentioned before, Mr Banks is emotionless and void, seems to care little for his children, orders his wife around like a servant and undermines her intelligence, and believes that his view is the right view no matter what. Mr Banks is the sort of man who, when his children were born, simply handed them to the midwife and went straight back to work. He’s also a man who you cannot seeing ever having had a childhood.

Mr Banks is certainly the main character in Mary Poppins, even though it’s her name on the title. He is the one who learns the most throughout the film. If anything, he is the one who needs mentoring, not the children.

However, Bert gives a helpful insight into Mr Banks. He is a man with nobody looking out for him, meaning he must look out for himself. In mentoring terms, he doesn’t have that person who wants to help and is willing to listen. When someone does offer advise, he ignores it, continuing down his destructive path. The only advise he listens to is Bert’s, who tell him to cherish his time with Jane and Michael before they grow up and leave home.

For any mentors reading this, what advise would you give Mr Banks? How would you act around a man who pushes away every bit of help you give? Would you give him space? Would you stand your ground and be firm? Would you find out what he likes and use that to influence him?


Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in MARY POPPINS RETURNS.
No copyright infringement is intended.

Whilst Mary Poppins is not the best film for mentoring, it teaches a lot of valuable life lessons that people across the age spectrum can learn: acts of kindness, making things fun, and the realisation that time is shorter than you think.

All mentors and mentees should watch Mary Poppins and try to spot the hidden meanings of the film. You could make comparisons to your own experience and how to use them in mentoring sessions and the future overall.

Dick Van Dyke had no dance experience whatsoever before getting the role of Bert. If he can go from that to a knockout performance, then nothing is stopping you from doing the same.



The Mentoring of Albus Dumbledore

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. A character known throughout the world as a kind and gentle man, with brilliant intellect and who saw the best in everybody, even if they had travelled too far down the path of darkness.

When J.K Rowling was writing the character of Dumbledore, did she realise she would create one of the best mentors fiction could ask for? Only the likes of J.R.R Tolkien could achieve this. This blog will look at Dumbledore’s skill as a mentor and why he stands out.

Dumbledore’s Character

Michael Gambon took the role in Prisoner of Azkaban after Richard Harris’s death in 2002.
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Let’s first begin with Dumbledore in the Philosopher’s Stone. When we are introduced to him, Dumbledore is read as a knowledgeable and kind man. He leaves Harry with his awful relatives, knowing he will be safe there. We later learn Dumbledore has turned down the Minister of Magic job multiple times, choosing to stay as headmaster of Hogwarts instead. He keeps an eye on Harry during his first year at Hogwarts and later talks to him privately in the Hospital Wing. However, Dumbledore avoids talking about the most important of subjects.

What does this tell us? Although you might not think it, the first book speaks volumes about Dumbledore’s mentoring. He does not care about his own personal success, wanting to focus on helping the young witches and wizards. He will do what is right, even if it’s the hardest route for the mentee. Dumbledore also knows when and how to give certain information to his mentees, holding back if he feels they are not ready to hear it.

Throughout the Harry Potter series, we learn Dumbledore makes arrangements for unfortunate students. He convinced the previous Hogwarts headmaster to make Hagrid groundskeeper after being wrongly expelled. He allowed Remus Lupin, a werewolf, to attend the school as a child, giving him the same opportunities as other young people. He also hired Lupin as a teacher for a year, though much of the staff were against this. This shows Dumbledore wanted people to succeed even when the world was against them and did this by presenting opportunities.

Mentoring Mr Potter

Michael Gambon and Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. No copyright infringement intended

Moving onto Dumbledore’s relationship with Harry, this is perhaps the best example of mentoring you can find. It isn’t until the fourth book where we see this relationship start blooming. When Harry is entered into the Triwizard Tournament, Dumbledore is immediately concerned. He believes Harry when the boy says he didn’t enter himself. Harry goes to Dumbledore about his strange dreams, the headmaster listening with interest. After Lord Voldemort returns, Dumbledore again believes Harry’s story without doubt and puts into motion plans to slow down the villain.

In the fifth book, Dumbledore repeatedly comes under fire because of his insistence that Voldemort has returned. However, Dumbledore continues to try and change his doubters’ minds, never giving in. He also, again, keeps secrets from Harry, and after the first major battle of the renewed war, reveals everything he knows, unable to hide the truth any longer and knowing Harry is now ready. He even confesses he didn’t make Harry a prefect because he felt Harry had too much on his plate and didn’t want to add more, showing he places a mentee’s well-being above all else.

Let’s stop here and reflect. Dumbledore automatically trusts his mentee, though many others believe Harry to be lying for attention. Throughout his years as a teacher and mentor, Dumbledore had earned the respect and trust of many of his former students. As Neville Longbottom says when quoting his grandmother about Voldemort, “If Dumbledore says he’s back, he’s back.”

It can be hard for mentors for earn trust and respect sometimes, but Dumbledore proves that as long as you are truthful, trusting, and respectful to your mentees, they will quickly repay it.

In the sixth book, Dumbledore’s mentoring is taken to new heights. He holds personal one to one meetings with Harry about Voldemort and even sets him a task to get a certain memory, knowing Harry has the influence he does not. Dumbledore brings Harry along with him on a dangerous mission and the two put their full faith in one another. We also see how painful it is for Harry to see his mentor under immense pain, both physically and mentally. Harry sees Dumbledore as a grandfather figure and somebody he can talk to, and therefore Harry feels the weight of Dumbledore’s death much harder than others.

Why is the sixth book so important in terms of mentoring? There is an easy answer to this. Imagine you are having a meeting with a mentee and you are preparing for a job interview at Tesco. To get the highest chance of success, you will want to cover as many bases as possible, starting from what to do at the beginning of the interview, to how to finish it, explaining things to ensure they understand. Dumbledore does this by showing Harry memories before Voldemort was born right up to the villain talking about horcruxes. In other words, Harry knows enough to succeed in getting the Tesco job. Dumbledore also doesn’t help Harry with getting the final memory, giving Harry key problem solving skills.

The Perfect Mentor

Jude Law plays Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts series. No copyright infringement intended.

In conclusion, Dumbledore’s mentoring is extraordinary and stands out because he is a mentor who pushes his mentees to become confident and successful. He doesn’t react with anger. He trusts and respects his students, staff, friends, and acquaintances and this trust and respect are returned tenfold. He has earned such a reputation that some people believe him without question. He offers opportunities that some students and adults desperately need.

He treats his enemies as he treats everybody, with the utmost respect. Just before his death, Dumbledore is still talking in a friendly and polite manner. He wishes to reach out and save people, getting them to their goals, and not satisfied with simply giving up on them. Dumbledore is ready to listen to the concerns of his students and friends, giving them encouraging advice. He sees everybody as equal, from Muggles to Death Eaters, no matter their background. Ultimately, he simply cares for people and makes them feel calm and safe.

Albus Dumbledore is the mentor all mentoring should be based on. So whenever you feel stuck when mentoring, simply think to yourself what Dumbledore would do.

“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

Albus Dumbledore

Mentoring in Films


Did you know mentoring takes place in films all the time? Think of a film and there’s bound to be a man or woman teaching and leading a single person or group to achieve the film’s eventual happy ending.

Let’s pick a film at random. Star Wars maybe?

Obi-Wan Kenobi becomes a mentor to Luke Skywalker after the sudden deaths of Luke’s aunt and uncle. Obi-Wan is highly protective of the young man and is dedicated to helping Luke succeed in learning everything he needs to become a great success. Luke also sees his mentor as a father figure and role model. Obi-Wan also helps Luke grow in confidence to the point where Luke will walk into any situation calmly and with no fear. The old mentor even returns after his death to teach Luke and provide him with knowledge and advise.

Another great example of mentoring is Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. Perhaps one of the best mentors of all time, Mufasa is kind but strict, from teaching the young Simba how to hunt and pounce, to explaining the responsibilities of being a king, and scolding Simba when the lion cub disobeys his father. Like Obi-Wan, Mufasa returns from the dead to continue the mentoring when Simba needs guidance only his father gave give him.

A much more recent film series that features mentoring is the Marvel Cinematic Universe between Iron Man and Spider-Man. Being young with a brilliant mind and superpowers, Spidey needs someone to teach him the ropes of responsibility. Iron Man takes this duty, wanting his mentee to become the hero he isn’t. Iron Man sees a lot of himself in Spider-Man and therefore is greatly invested in his future. He punishes Spider-Man when he puts innocent lives in danger, making the young hero learn to act more responsibly. Spider-Man sees his mentor as the father he didn’t have and wants to please him to prove Iron Man’s investment doesn’t go to waste.

Have you spotted the running theme? All of the mentees are young people with great futures ahead of them. This is exactly what mentoring is meant to achieve!

If you’re a mentor, the next time you watch a film, look out for different types of mentoring and what the positive effects are. You might learn something along the way which could help you with your mentoring skills.