Take a moment to think about what a mentor looks like to you. Many of us imagine an individual in a suit with arms crossed strategically for the perfect LinkedIn photo. Still, we know that some of the best mentors do not always come in a conventional package. Last week we lost a great artist with the death of David Bowie. While he does not match the description of what we may imagine as a mentor, his actions embodied them. Much can be learned about mentoring success strategies by looking at David Bowie’s example.
The most notable mentoring relationship David Bowie participated in was with Stooges’ lead vocalist Iggy Pop. After a break from his band, and a sequence of unhealthy life choices, Bowie took Iggy in as his protégé. While Bowie exhibited mentoring in many ways, here are five actions that made him an exceptional mentor.
1. He Set an Example:
Although cliche, actions truly speak louder than words. Bowie took Pop on tour. There, he did not need to explain professionalism and consistency because he showed it nightly. No matter the size of the crowed, Bowie performed at the same level. He showed discipline and control. These moments can transform a protégé’s experience.
2. He cared
Great mentors take time out of business to care for the whole person. It was noted that Bowie was one of the few individuals that visited Iggy in rehab. He even went as far as to travel with Pop to meet his family. He was not just interested in how his protégé could grow professionally, he also wanted him to grow personally. Pop was quoted in the NY Times saying, “He was more of a benefactor than a friend in a way most people think of friendship. He went a bit out of his way to bestow some good karma on me.”
3. He shared his skills
Beyond showing examples of great professionalism, mentors help their protégées by delving into the work, while creating challenges. Producing two albums for Pop, Bowie was noted in changing the way Iggy worked and created music. Those albums are Iggy’s most acclaimed albums to date.
4. He knew how to follow
The best mentors know that they can learn from their protégé. During the time the two men lived together in Berlin, they worked on music and as equals. Although Bowie imparted knowledge onto Iggy’s life, he took time to learn and be inspired by the artist unique sound.
5. He provided opportunities
Opportunities is the one of the greatest gifts that can be bestowed from mentoring. Bowie provided many opportunities for Pop including allowing him to sing background vocals, and introducing him to many individuals in their industry. Even after their more traditional mentoring relationship ended, Bowie extended concert performances and other opportunities to Iggy.
What unconventional mentoring have you experienced? It takes a team of mentors to be successful, and no two mentors are alike. Take some time to think professionals in your life that took a nontraditional path to success. They could be the key to leaving your comfort zone and finding success.
You can find the NY times article with Iggy Pop here.
Visit this link to hear one of David Bowie’s songs I find inspirational.