learning, music biz, growing up, politics, excellence, Responsibility

Rabbis, Gurus & Mentors, Oh My!

Papa liked to play the ponies!

In the late 1980s my dad had a friend he called “the rabbi” – a man at the track who provided counsel on which horse to bet on and why. And Maharishi Mahesh Yogi inspired a generation to embrace Transcendental Meditation when the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many others joined him in India 20 years earlier. While John Lennon later claimed that the Giggling Guru was a fraud, the impulse to Follow The Leader seems to be hardwired into human beings.

Giggling Guru & The Beatles

Anyone who visits my website meets my mentor Hale Smith; I could say that “he made me who I am today”, and while that’s not entirely accurate, he certainly had a profound influence for which I’m eternally grateful. 12-Step groups tell newcomers, “find someone who has what you want and ask how they got it” – and when I saw the career Hale had built for himself, I was in his face, demanding as much of his time and attention as I could get! Fortunately he had boundaries (and plenty of other students!), but I could see that Hale was the best, so being “like Mike” was my top priority!

I invested a lot in my relationship with Hale, but I didn’t feel entitled to his help and I never held him responsible when there were disappointments. I also didn’t go so far as to take up his habit of cigar smoking!

Which brings me to today’s subject: whose job is it to ensure employees are fulfilled in their jobs? When I read this article in today’s news, I started to wonder!?!

As a rule, I’m not a fan of essentially-one-chord songs, so I didn’t pay much attention to THIS one when it first came out. But it came to mind when learning of staff leaving the White House in droves because “we’re doing a lot of work but we’re not decision-makers and there’s no real path towards becoming decision-makers”. Ummm…. excuse my ignorance, but since when did it become management’s job to provide advancement?

The Declaration of Independence promises “the pursuit of Happiness” – but no guarantees! In truth, none of us are actually entitled to much of anything and the sooner we learn that, the better. Like so much else in life, career progress is self-propelled. It has to be a priority to the extent that one keeps working at getting around, over, under and through every obstacle. In my experience this takes energy, focus and steely determination.

To paraphrase John Houseman’s iconic ad for Smith Barney, “Happiness doesn’t grow on trees or march up and bite you on the behind… you have to EARN it!”

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