Within the span of a few hours today, I found myself talking with someone I consider a mentor and then having a conversation with someone who has been seeking my advice (God help this person). It got me thinking about the whole “mentor” relationship in general, which then of course led me to thinking about one of the greatest pieces of cinema ever created.
Without a doubt, my favorite movie of all time is The Karate Kid. There are many reasons for this – an underdog overcoming huge odds, classic 80’s villainy (William Zabka!), fighting back against bullies and the epic song “You’re the best around” (guilty admission – I play it constantly and my kids know the lyrics cold). But above all, the reason the movie really resonates with me is the Miyagi and Daniel-san relationship. Here we have a wise man going out of his way to take someone under his wing, act as a mentor, teacher and friend, without any pretense of wanting something in return. I have been thinking about this a lot lately as there are lots of great examples of this personally in my career with people who have gone out of their way to help me, and I try as best I can to act this way with people who have asked me for help.
The beauty of social media is that the world got a lot smaller and bigger at the same time. We can constantly be in touch with people across the country and in other far off parts of the world, but the vastness of the reach doesn’t have to undercut the relationships we build. It has been really amazing to be able to email ideas back and forth with people I met in Australia as much as it is to chat about career decisions or employment branding or whatever with people I can meet for lunch the next town over. These relationships, if truly reciprocal without need to exchange favors, can really result in some amazing collaborations and – most importantly – help people who need it. I continue to have people to whom I reach out to for guidance – some recent connections and some whom I have known for many years. What amazes me is that there is never a “I will help you but I need you to” preface to these interactions. From former managers, colleagues, friends and some awesome social media connections I have received really great advice over the years.
I remember back when I first started out in recruiting (many “All Valley tournaments” ago), there was a more competitive “Cobra Kai” method of getting ahead – definitely a “look out for number one” approach. I am glad to have been shown over the years that this is not the right path, and that there are indeed many Miyagis in the world who can lead you to a better way of doing things. I have learned something from all of them. It has become even more obvious to me as I have started my new venture how key all of these people have been to me and just how selfless their actions have been. We have such an opportunity with social media to do this for others moving forward, not just for immediate connections but for those perhaps in other areas of the world too.
As Miyagi said “No such thing as bad student, only bad teacher”.