Greenleaf retired from AT&T in 1964, five years later he began to write about his concept, The Servant as Leader. In 1962 he wrote a piece that he titled: Uniqueness, Paradox and Choice – Notes on Strategy for Potentially Successful People. I have decided, gentle reader, to offer us some passages from this essay. I will offer passages that continue to speak to me. Perhaps some of them will speak to you. Greenleaf writes:
In my early business experience I had a mentor who believed that every man has the seeds of greatness in him, that the inward experience is man’s most dependable guide…
…there was a long ‘wilderness’ period in which I sought resources outside myself. Good years went by. No answers came. A long time was spent in discovering that the only real answer to frustration is to concern myself with the drawing forth of what is uniquely me. Only as what is uniquely me emerges do I experience moments of true creativity; moments which, when deeply felt, give me the impulse and the courage to act constructively in the outside world.
Every life is a blend of experiences that build ego strength and those that tear it down. As one’s responsibilities widen, these experiences become more powerful. Maturity may be described as the capacity to withstand the ego destroying experiences and not lose one’s perspective in the ego building experiences.
My experience is that a ‘Mentor’ appears and is recognized when I am searching, seeking, open to and have a need for a Mentor. A Mentor ‘sees’ potentials, gifts, abilities, talents, etc. in us that we do not see (or that we have refused to acknowledge); the Mentor then calls these forth. The Mentor challenges us and at the same time supports us. I have acknowledged six mentors in my life – the first, Larry Kelly, appeared when I was in the sixth grade. He saw potentials in me and he called them forth; often in challenging ways, always with my well-being in mind (as an 11 year old I did not have the words for this experience although I knew, even then, that he cared deeply for me and for my development).
Gentle reader, when have you been in need of and open to receiving a Mentor in your life? What did your Mentor ‘see’ in you and what did your Mentor ‘call forth’ – in a supportive and challenging way? Looking back throughout your life’s journey, did you ‘miss’ a Mentor or two – the Mentor was there and you did not invite the Mentor into your life?