16 January 17

“No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.” ― Malcolm GladwellOutliers: The Story of Success

Re-reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers over the Christmas break, I was struck by the idea that people very rarely, if ever, achieve greatness in isolation.

If you’re anything like me the idea of being a lone wolf, a self-sufficient individual with no need for guidance or counsel, has a certain appeal. Walking through life like Clint Eastwood in A Fist Full of Dollars, poncho-clad with a cigarillo between my teeth.

The reality is that we all need help, at times. We all need guidance. Rather than a sign of weakness or inability, history has shown that the ability to confide in others and seek counsel actually makes people successful.

Last week I caught up with one of my mentors. After outlining what we most wanted to achieve this year we made a pact of accountability. We agreed to keep each other on track with our respective goals, giving a progress update at our next catch up. If you need motivation to make change, task someone who you respect and admire with holding you accountable – you’ll find a way to make it happen.

In the words of John Donne no man is an island, so start building bridges and fostering mutually beneficial relationships that will enrich your life and career. Learn, grow and flourish to the point where you are able to pay it forward. Become a mentor to another young, ambitious, self-important twerp and mold them into the leader of tomorrow.

See a list of some of the famous mentors and their proteges below.

Famous Mentor/ Mentee Combos:

  • Richard Branson (mentor: Sir Freddie Laker) – “It’s always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker,”
  • Michael Jordan (mentor: Dean Smith) – “Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith. He was more than a coach – he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it.”
  • Sheryl Sandberg (mentor: Larry Summers) – “…through all of these years, he was a supportive and deeply caring mentor for me and many other women who had the opportunity to work for him.”
  • Bill Gates (mentor: Warren Buffet) – “I pick Warren as somebody I have learned an immense amount from, just hearing his stories of how he dealt with tough situations, how he thought long-term, how he models the world. If you get a chance to spend time with people like that, it’s fantastic.”
  • Oprah Winfrey (mentor: Maya Angelou) – “She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life…The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher.”
  • Mark Zuckerberg (mentor: Steve Jobs) – “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”