Dave Hansen is a big dude about 60 years old with motorcycle oil in his blood. He calls himself the Proprietor Extraordinaire of “The Shop” in Ventura. Specializing in Indian motorcycles, he shared some great history of the big shots in Indian motorcycle lore. Most famous of those was Burt Munro from Invercargill, New Zealand. You might remember Burt from the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian” (2005) where Anthony Hopkins portrayed him. Multiple times when Dave was talking he referred to his mentor. He did this enough times that I asked him who and where this mentor was. Dave pointed to the framed photo above the door and said “that is Sam Pierce and he taught me everything I know about Indians, running a shop and just about everything else important.” Dave even told us the story of the time that Burt Munro was passing through Sam’s house on his way to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Sam called Dave and told him to get over to the house right away, sit down, shut up, listen and be in the presence of greatness. Burt was melting old Ventura county water pipes and making piston sleeves for his motorcycles. Burt said Ventura pipes used the best materials. Per Dave, he learned so much that afternoon from Burt and Sam.
I thought about what had just happened for the next 30 miles while I cruised up Hwy 1. It would be amazing to have a mentor so important and influential in our careers that we frame a photo of this person and hang it over the door of our business/office! Wouldn’t we all want such a strong role model? I am fortunate enough to have such a person, and while I stay in touch and thank him often, I do not have his photo proudly displayed (something I might consider). Then it struck me – I’ve really got it backwards. Each of us should strive to be a mentor so positive, so effective, so influential that our mentees see it within themselves long after we are gone to hang a photo of us so others know the role we had. This could be the ultimate test of our leadership ability.
I enjoy when I learn something important when I’m not looking. What are your thoughts on the importance of finding or being a mentor?