By Jane Wurwand
Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great. Bach mentored Mozart. Obi-wan Kenobi mentored Luke Skywalker. But this is just the mentoring we know about, because it’s been done by men.
The fact is that women everywhere thrive by mentoring each other and through creating webs of interdependency. This has been the case for centuries, simply because women have generally been marginalized and denied access to power in its conventional forms, which have long been male-dominated. Historically, women have helped each other to succeed because we had to. In doing so, we have learned to share power, collaborate and apply intuition to the business process, concepts which most men are still trying to master.
For the past five years or so, I have participated in the mentoring process through Step Up Women’s Network (SUWN), and although I am identified as the mentor, I can honestly tell you that I have learned much from my mentees.
One of the most transcendent truths is that no one accomplishes anything in a vacuum. While we all have to find our center of gravity and stoke the fire in our own bellies, compartmentalization always diminishes our potential. There’s more to gain today in looking beyond the usual. And we have no choice, since the “usual” is no more.
This is relevant to all business people as the old paradigms fall apart. A generation ago, and even a decade ago, many aspects of business operated in a crisply defined way. Now, the marble pillars of convention are wobbling and everyone needs to reconsider how they do business. The keys to success now may lie where we least expect them.
For instance, that nicely brushed young person with the Ivy League pedigree may not be where the magic is in terms of reinventing the future of your business. My work with SUWN has proven this time and again. Consider that in Los Angeles, 1 in 3 high school students drop out. Countless more will never set foot on a college campus. That would seem to be a hopelessly daunting fact, until you consider one thing: Students who are mentored through SUWN experience more than a 95% success rate in completing high school and entering a 4-year college program. This suggests that we all need to shed any preconceptions we may still harbor regarding the future of the world, since it will look nothing like the past.
The message applies to organizations as well as to us women through the concept of “embedded generosity.” Our world really begins to expand when we stop hoarding all the cookies. This, too, relates to the idea of allowing barriers to dissolve. By integrating concern for the well-being and welfare of others into our plans for our own gain, we are expanded, not diminished. Intuition tells us this, although hardball-playing, Gordon Gecko-style capitalism tells us just the opposite. Who do you believe? I guess my view, to paraphrase Gordon, is that lunch is not for wimps, especially if you share it.
Jane Wurwand is the Founder and Owner of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute.