Teachers are Leaders

Ellen Rohr
Contributing Writer
Bare Bone Biz

I have been blessed with mentors my whole life.  I am grateful for their lessons, some of which didn’t sink in until years after they were delivered.  Here are a few of my mentors and their pearls of wisdom…

Restaurant owner Jackie Moran taught me that every job is an opportunity to develop excellence.  There is honor in washing dishes, filling salt shakers and pouring coffee.

Ski instructor Val Stevens taught me about keeping things simple and sticking to the basics.  He believed that we get tired of talking about the few things that make all the difference.  So, we ball things up and make it complicated.  The basics work…and they are new to your students.  As you are getting tired of it…it is just starting to sink in.

Frank Blau taught me to charge more than it costs.  He taught me that the foundation of a successful business is profitablity.  He taught me that everyone, not just the owner, deserves to make a great living and build a substantial nest egg.  He taught me to keep score…and that wealth is integral to a fully lived life.

Dan Holohan taught me to write like I am talking to you.  He is so good at it that he makes you feel like he wrote every word just for you.  He connects with people…and connects people with each other.  What a gift.

Al Levi taught me to sit in the other person’s chair.  Al literally gets up and sits in the second chair in his office to consider every move he makes from the other fellow’s viewpoint.  He believes that every business decision is a win-win…or it is a non-starter.

Howard Partridge showed me how to build community.  He asks questions, and magnetizes people to solve their own problems, and be of service to each other.

My husband, Hot Rod, taught me to follow your bliss.  It makes you an expert.  He does exactly what he wants to do every day and has made a series of great careers doing just that.

Here’s what I have learned from all my mentors (and there have been so many more than I have mentioned):  Everyone who has made a success of their life on any level had help from someone else.  You don’t get there alone.  Once someone helps you, you are honor bound to help someone else.

Here’s some advice for being a good mentor…

Offer help when asked.  Refrain from giving unsolicited advice.  I have learned that it makes no sense to offer help to those who don’t ask for it.  Be open, be available and wait until someone says, “What do you think I should do about…”

Sometimes it takes a feather and sometimes it takes a brick.  There is a time for everything…and more than one way to deliver information.  You don’t have to do it perfectly.  And you can’t know if the way you are offering your advice is the “right” way.  Always come from a place of service.  Always act in a spirit of love and understanding.  You won’t know if the lesson will be received or not and that’s fine.  It leads to my last piece of advice…

Offer to help and let go of the outcome.  Don’t expect your protegee to act on every bit of wisdom.  It may ‘hit’ them years later.  Once you have sown the seed, relax and let it grow.  Once upon a time, ski instructor Val asked me to make my feet “greasy” as I made a turn.  I had NO idea what he was talking about.  Fully 5 years later, I slipped my feet around a turn, stayed in balance, and knew exactly what he meant.

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