Mentors – Your Pivots in Life!

I thought to write upon this sort of topic simply because of the extreme fortune I have had to be guided by great mentors in my personal and professional lives.

I strongly feel what you become as a person (in various roles / capacities) can be deeply influenced by how you have been mentored or guided. Whether you are a son, a sibling, a parent, a leader – the type of people you had in your life can have a direct correlation to that.

A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you. – Bob Proctor

When I was a teenager I was fortunate to know an elderly uncle in my neighbourhood who had great taste for Indian literature and religion. He asked me to proof read a book he was associated with which was a collection of commentary by various scholars of world on India, its religion and culture. It was fascinating to read that stuff!

At the same time I was exposed to a great value system by him that the ancient Indian learnings taught. I was inspired to read Bhagavad Gita and biographies of inspirational leaders like Vivekananda by him. It left a great imprint on what would be my personality later on.

Similarly when I got into working life, I was very fortunate to work with some very senior leaders at the start. I graduated in June of 2002 from my engineering and that was the time when we had dot com bust. I got help from a friends father to get a contractual position for IT department of an oil sector body. But as luck would have it, I was exposed directly to the chairman of Indian Oil Corporation and senior directors of that field working there. What I learnt from our chairman (who was a very senior leader – both nationally and Globally) was -

  • No task is small to do
  • More you rise the more humble you should remain
  • Never compromise on integrity. You are respected for “when you walk the talk” and not just “talk the talk”. Lead from front.

Then in a different job couple of years later, I joined a company that was opening its new development centre in India. I joined as roughly their 10th employee. It was lead by another industry stalwart who was CEO of a computer hardware giant prior to that. I was fortunate to be absorbed in a mentoring program by company exec team which they thought was key to build future leaders. I was made floor champion of my floor with an intent to make sure I was able to cultivate a culture of positivity and high energy. From him I learnt -

  • Every employee is equal and deserves total respect
  • Personal touch matters a lot – for example, he would make sure to personally greet each employee as part of his floor walks during the day (and each day when he was in office)
  • Health and work life balance is important to maintain momentum on both fronts

Of course there were more mentors in later years. When I worked for Adobe I learnt immensely from couple of great seniors about

  • How to be a good learner
  • How to always keep working at a higher level than your current role so as to reach where you want to reach.

Even recently at my present organisation FirstRain I was very lucky to have an MD who understood my skills, told me things and planted / groomed me well in the organisation.

I guess the main point to drive here is you must not miss these important pivots in your life. Try to learn the best you can from great leaders as and when you get the chance. May be create those chances (drive your luck)!

It would be great to hear your stories / comments about your experiences, your mentors who you think played a great role in shaping you up.

Alexander the Great valued learning so highly, that he used to say he was more indebted to Aristotle for giving him knowledge than to his father Philip for life – Samuel Smiles