How Mentoring Leaves A Legacy
What do the following groups of people have in common?
- Yoda – Qui-Gon Jinn – Obi-Wan Kenobi – Luke Skywalker
- Bill Walsh – Sam Wyche – Bruce Coslet – Pete Carroll
- Socrates – Plato – Aristotle – Alexander the Great
- Fred Borch – Reginald Jones – Jack Welch – Jeffrey Immelt
These lists show the legacy of great mentors and their impact over their contemporary and subsequent generations.
Granted, one of these is fictional (the Star Wars reference above). Yet the meaning and understanding is the same, whether fictional or not. When you mentor and develop the best in someone, you create an enduring legacy that reaches far beyond the influence you could ever attain in your own life and strength.
The power of mentoring goes far beyond having someone carry the mantle of leadership. It creates a discipline of development and growth that organically grows and branches out from person to person. A great mentor will not only seek out a prized student to develop and nurture along, but someone who shares the same vision and passion for developing others and continuing the chain long after they depart from their influence in their sphere.
Consider the legacy of the above examples:
- In the Star Wars movies, the training of The Force from Yoda and Qui-Gon enabled Obi-Wan and later Luke to overcome some of the darkest times in the galaxy, which led to liberating worlds and setting up a new realm of Jedi and peace across civilization.
- Bill Walsh’s discipleship in American football has spawned perhaps the most extensive coaching tree in the sport’s history. With other Super Bowl winning coaches (such as Steve Mariucci, Mike Shannahan, Brian Billick, John Harbaugh, and MIke McCarthy), Walsh created a revolutionary offensive scheme (the West Coast offense) that has been modified and adapted to many other of his protege’s styles and teams. 9 Super Bowl titles (and still counting) later, Walsh’s influence still continues to grow in the NFL.
- These Greek philosophers each took their master’s revolutionary thinking to another level. Socrates formed the philosophic and in part, scientific method of questioning life. Plato took those teachings to contemplate the soul and immaterial things, then Aristotle emphasized the other side of the coin of the material, bodily, and happiness of the here and now, which influenced to a degree Alexander the Great.
- These GE CEO’s left an incredible legacy of leadership. Borch helped Jones to understand his career beyond him, and developed 6 eventual CEO’s in business and Welch to succeed him. Welch left a strong and aligned GE to Immelt who has run the helm, for the last 6 years.
You may or may not agree about these lists. But think about those who have mentored you. Then consider what their teaching has done to shape you, which when blended with your talents, it shaping those you work with. This cycle perpetuates both negative and positive, largely left to the individual but definitely forged by the ability of her or his mentor. Without a good mentor, many great leaders may have been average. Conversely, without a great mentor, many poor leaders could have been much worse.
Mentorship goes past business to the realms of coaching, teaching, parenting, and beyond. In every connection in every area of life, we have an incredible opportunity to mentor and set other people up who will in turn shape and define their generation and others after them.
Seek a mentor. Be a mentor. Lead others to find their own mentor or to become a mentor themselves. Find those values and character traits that are desirable and needed in the world, and start a legacy to perpetuate them for as many generations of leaders as you are able.