Counting my blessings – how much of the good I have in my life can be attributed to my mentors…
Firstly, to set the record straight, as this is a follow on from my previous Blog post it has to be said, in no way am I comparing myself to Michael Jordan! These days I’d be lucky to touch the basketball ring, let alone dunk in it! Still, having a mentor is about being the best “you” that you can be, so this is my story.
Save singling out specific people by name, I’m going to talk in general terms about specific situations:
The old head that doesn’t mind a yarn – In a previous role, I was quickly introduced to a man whose generosity of knowledge I will be forever thankful for. I work in the technology industry. I have done for a long time, but when you are talking about the big black boxes that sit in the data centre, it’s not exactly the same as getting your head around the latest tablet. Having this gentleman as my educator, a man who willingly shared his thoughts, breaking down extremely technical concepts into simple terms, engrained on me the art of story-telling for its ability to demystify the complex, but also how far a humble attitude gets you in life. Despite his wealth of knowledge, he never lorded it over people. His attitude is what I value, as much as his technical expertise. Despite me not working there for two years, we remain in touch, and I consider him a good friend.
My community – I have a group of friends I catch up with every week. We have dinner together at least once a month. These friends have different careers. There are lawyers, designers, marketers, homemakers and pilots to name a few. From this melting pot, you get lots of different perspectives. The nice thing is, they are disconnected from my everyday work. They bring no baggage into conversations, so while the advice is not always on point because they have varying levels of understanding of the industry in which I work, you can be more open than some other situations because you aren’t concerned with prejudice. There is an honesty in this community that is authentic, with no agenda and this allows me to reflect on big picture ideas and issues.
People who back themselves – The beauty of working in the media means you’re likely to make friends with journalists. One journalist friend of mine in particular is a successful businessman in his own right. We talk industry issues. In his position, he gets to see the good and the bad, because he writes their stories. Not only that, but he has used this perspective as the backbone from which to build his own public persona as a thought leader and industry visionary. For me, this relationship has helped me understand what it is to be refined through adversity, as well as how to build a credible personal brand.
A great mind, minus the greys – Last but not least, my brother is living proof that wisdom isn’t reserved for retirement. He is 30 years old and nearly four years younger than me. Despite being younger he has a measured, gentle demeanour you would normally associate with someone who has many more years under their belt. His counsel is considered. Perhaps part of this is related to his profession as physiotherapist, which means he has to have a calm approach with well-honed people skills while he works to fix physical ailments which are often quite painful. When you talk to him, you know he is listening, which is an art often lost on us today, as we live hurried lives and multi-task too often. In this way it is a good test of my character because there is no-where to hide as he knows me as well as anyone.
It also should be said, these are not the only people I count on for advice. I have a good team of Comms Pros I work with and great friends and family who I value immeasurably. What I can say about having all these people in my life is it’s very clear I don’t know everything, but I’m not supposed to. None of the four mentioned above work in my field (PR) and while I might not always agree with their advice, I always bank it, because one thing I do know is, you never know what’s around the corner. And that’s one of the main reasons I write this Blog. It’s a catalogue of my own learnings, only made possible because of the good people in my world. It’s also the reason why we run a mentoring program where I work. Mentoring makes a difference!
– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter
NB. One of my mentors suggested I dig a little deeper into this topic, so you may also want to check out this post – How to find (and keep) a good mentor!