Professional Mentoring 101, Part 1: Do I Really Need a Professional Mentor?
One of my favorite bands is Earth, Wind, and Fire. Earth-Wind, or EWF, as they are affectionately called by their most loyal fans was started by percussionist Maurice White in 1969. I have heard it said an Earth, Wind and Fire song is being played somewhere in the world every 3 minutes. Maurice White found great wisdom navigating the music business from his friend and mentor, fellow musician Ramsey Lewis. Ramsey Lewis is the founder of the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Their musical collaboration spawned the classic song “Sun Goddess.”
Reflecting upon Ramsey and Maurice’s relationship I start thinking about how many great artists, athletes, and professionals have benefited from mentor relationships. For example, Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson. Quincy Jones had Count Basie and Ernie Davis had Jim Brown. I once thought all the people mentioned are such amazing talents, why would they need a mentor? The answer that came to me is that mentors serve different purposes. Ernie Davis needed Jim Brown to help him understand what to expect and how to deal with the hostile environment he would face as an African American student at Syracuse University. Quincy Jones needed Count Basie to teach him how to run a band. Michael Jackson needed Phil Jackson to show him how to get the best out of his teammates. Pondering this I am able to see the relevance and importance of professional relationships. Even the most talented people need help realizing their career aspirations.
Take a page out of one of The Greats’ book: The best way to achieve a goal is to look at people who have achieved that same goal or at least attempted it before you. Experience is the best teacher but those experiences do not have to belong to you to serve as powerful teaching tools in your life. Learning from the experiences of others is a great reason to get a mentor.