Monthly Archives: November 2013

The picture of a wise mentor.


I have had several great mentors in my life, and I have tried to be a great mentor to others. The mentors I remember the most poured their wisdom into me in the hope that I would go further and accomplish more than they themselves did. I learned in this process that only the most confident of leaders can help their team shine brighter than themselves.

If you have a mentor, how can you be sure you are receiving wise counsel? If you are a mentor to someone else, how can you be sure you are giving wise counsel?

In my book, The Leadership GPS, Brian Alden is in just this situation. He needs someone to mentor him in his new leadership role, and there are people in his life that need a mentor. Brian looks to his grandfather, Michael Tennyson, for a solution to each of these needs.

How could Brian be sure he would receive wise counsel in this situation from his grandfather?

– Brian and his grandfather had common principles – honesty, integrity, respect. Most importantly they believed in helping others succeed.

– Michael Tennyson was a successful business man who had started and grown many companies in his career. He was a mentor to each leader in his organizations.

– Brian’s grandfather knew first-hand the pitfalls of mistakes he had made. These mistakes became lessons for his next choices and for others he would mentor.

– The wisdom of the generations was not lost on Michael Tennyson. He was a student of historical leaders and could apply their experience to his own and to others’ situations.

How could Brian be sure he was giving wise counsel to those he mentored?

– One rule: Pass on the wisdom he receives from those like his grandfather who have earned his trust through their example.

Whenever Possible, Follow the Road More Traveled

GPS and MentorI have traveled quite a bit in my adult life.  Some for family vacation and a lot for business.  I have also moved often over my career.  I am telling you this to explain why I rarely get into a car (mine or a rental) without having the GPS on.  I am in so many different cities over the span of a few years, that it just isn’t possible for me to memorize every street and every set of directions I need to navigate to appointments, hotels, or in some cases my new home when I have recently moved.

What I really like about the GPS systems is that I don’t a have to memorize all of the directions – I don’t have to figure it all out on my own.  Someone already mapped out all the possible ways to get from where I am to where I want to go, and programmed them into my GPS.

“Keep on the outlook for novel and interesting ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you are currently working on.” I was surprised that this quote came from Thomas Edison. Yes the same Thomas Edison that is the holder of 1,093 United States patents.  It gave me comfort in my use of the GPS when I drive because it explained what I was doing – using someone else’s ideas and adapting them to my current situation.

As an executive leader, I applied the thought of the GPS to leadership. So many times leaders feel they need to blaze their own trail; which is sometimes the right answer, but sometimes not. “Why couldn’t I simply follow the path of successful leaders who traveled before me?” I thought.  Well I did, and it brought me great success.  So much so that I wrote a book titled The Leadership GPS to share what I had learned.

In my book, Michael Tennyson is mentoring his grandson Brian Alden, a new leader.  He says “In my many years of business I discovered that most people are genuinely convinced that their situations are so unique and so difficult that no one has faced quite the same circumstances before, let alone found a way to solve them.  In some way I think it is a bit of pride in the human condition that makes people want a difficult solution for their difficult problems.  But it doesn’t need to be difficult.  Eighty percent of most problems have been solved before; the other twenty percent is taking the initiative to accept the solution given to you and implement it.”

If you want to learn more about the many leaders who traveled across history and built successful teams and how you can follow this same path, The Leadership GPS is the answer.


1 2 Scroll to top