This is the fifth part of a five part series on mentoring.
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” - Isaac Newton
If you look at any highly successful person, you will almost always find a mentor. It’s really hard to imagine that some people have mentors. We, as a society, tend to put people on a pedestal. In fact, it almost seems as if some famous people were just born awesome when in fact it took many set backs and failures before they achieved greatness.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
It also seems that the older or longer ago a person lived, the more difficult it is to imagine that historical figures are people too. They are just like you and I and they too needed a mentor.
Strongest Symbol for Non-Violence in the 20th Century
There aren’t too many people that have had a more profound effect on the world than Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi, like you and I had a mentor, Dadabhai Naoroji. Dadabhai helped start the Indian Independence Movement in 1857 and Gandhi was able to complete the task on August 15th 1947 which handed the country of India back to it’s people. This movement was the first and largest non violent resistance the world had ever seen and involved 50 million people within India. This all came from a person who had limited success starting a law practice in Mumbai and was also turned down for a part-time teaching position. While not being a direct mentor, Gandhi has been noted as an inspiration for Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela among others.
Richest Person in the World
It’s difficult to imagine that one of the most successful investors the world has seen was mentored at one time. In fact, Warren Buffett was mentored by Ben Graham while at Columbia University. Buffett celebrates Graham’s book, The Intelligent Investor, as the greatest book on investing ever written. It’s interesting to note that Ben Graham once owned a small insurance company you may have heard of before, GEICO. Apparently Ben Graham taught his student well as Warren Buffett now owns GEICO.
Most Admired Person for the 20th Century
Mother Teresa committed her life to God through good works and truly helping others. Instead of living a comfortable life in a convent, she decided to live among the poorest of the poor and help them even though she had no income to speak of. Mother Teresa received permission from the Vatican to start Missionaries of Charity. It started with 13 members to help the hungry and homeless - those shunned by society. Today, there are more than 4,000 nuns operating orphanages, AIDS hospices, and various charities worldwide. She led a remarkable and revered life, but she may not have achieved all that she did if it weren’t for her mentor, Father Michael van der Peet.
Greatest Basketball Player
Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player to ever play the game. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant might think otherwise, but they are referred to as “the Next Jordan”, not the other way around. Michael Jordan was a great player, having earned Rookie of the Year, but it wasn’t until he was joined with his coach and mentor, Phil Jackson, that he flourished. Under Phil Jackson’s first year as coach of the Chicago Bulls, and the help of young players Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, Michael Jordan and the Bulls were able to win their first NBA title. Michael Jordan amassed 6 NBA titles and became the most decorated NBA player ever under Phil Jackson.
What do you want to achieve? It’s probably not as difficult as you think.
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
You’re only limited by what you think is possible. Figure out what you want and then find someone who’s done it. Get a mentor, ask for their counsel, become comfortable with what they’ve done, and then make it your own.
Photo by Vincent
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