If you’d like to become part of today’s success and leadership, there’s no better way to start than to understand what power is behind it all. Being a business owner online or off is about you accepting leadership.
I used to think that after my successful career in the U.S. Navy, I could do it all on my own. What is “it all?” Quite literally everything and anything. I began a journey to build my own business using the internet as my principle media for marketing.
I made a big mistake. I ignored one of the key elements of being a successful leader. Something that was vital to my success throughout my Navy career.
This key ingredient was mentorship: the mentor power.
What is Mentor Power?
Let’s talk about why you need mentor power. It took me several years to realize this power, but I now know for a fact it is true.
When I started in the Navy, I had nothing different than anyone else. Certainly many of the officers came from backgrounds with more family money and backing. There is no doubt about this.
But in the end, we all started our careers the same. We graduated college, and we received a commission in the Navy.
I was sent to Washington, D.C. to await my date for starting flight school. This type of temporary assignment was called being “stashed.” Most newly commissioned officers were stashed for 6 months to a year.
Some chose to quite literally goof off the entire stash time. I was lucky. I had a couple of mentors at my assignment that were willing to guide me simply because I showed so eagerness to “discover” everything I could about the Navy Bureau where I was stashed.
This initial support – mentoring – was key to my sustaining the drive to succeed in flight school. You remember what happened to me in flight school, right?
The Next Step
The next step in my mentoring came in my first active duty squadron assignment. I was sent to VAW-123 in Norfolk, Virginia. My first job was the squadron 1st Lieutenant. In navy aviation squadrons, this was considered one of the worst jobs to have because (for all practical purposes) it was like being the head janitor for the squadron.
My personal attitude was, regardless of the job title, I was going to be the best damn 1st Lieutenant ever. My department head, executive officer, and commanding officer all seemed to notice this in me (as I realized later – keep reading and you will see why this is so important to you).
Lots of exciting things happened under my first commanding officer, CDR Ray Bunton. I looked up to him because he always supported me. He rarely told me directly that I had done anything good or bad. But his determination and straight talk were key in what I admired.
His executive officer was CDR Bill Liebe. Liebe was another key in my mentoring. As executive officer, he gave me much more room to operate independently than most of the other officers, including more senior lieutenants.
My department head way the new Lieutenant Commander Tom Lang. He drove me like a Mac truck. But for good reason. He saw I could handle it. Both in the airplane and doing my job on the ship. He let me build my own plans, and gave me direction whenever needed.
How the Mentoring Played Out
USS America if Vest Fjord
Ultimately, the power mentor moment happened while we were on our way home from my first deployment with Carrier Air Wing 1 on board the USS America (CV-66).
We spent most of the deployment underway (at sea). On our return trip to Norfolk, Va, we got a port visit in Catania, Italy. This is where the Naval Air Station Signonella is located.
We had spent so much time at sea, that even the fly infested port town was a welcome stop.
Now here is the mentor power moment…
The squadron officers went to the officer’s bar in the bachelor officers’ quarters called “The Fly Trap.” We quickly understood why the name “Fly Trap” was more than appropriate. I was still a drinker in those early days, and while there, the commanding officer Ray Bunton joined us.
We played our drinking games, told our stories, and lubricated our brains to predictable hangover levels. While leaving the Fly Trap, CDR Bunton came to me. To my surprise, he handed me his leather flight jacket.
The Defining Moment
Then he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Wayne, take this. (meaning the jacket – not to keep but to wear that night).” I couldn’t really just take it, but Bunton insisted.
He said to me, “Take this because you will be a commanding officer one day.”
The power of a mentors words were not realized instantly. But as I looked back in the rest of my career, I realized how many times I focused on becoming that commanding officer and that every time I remember my first commanding officer and mentor telling me that is what I would be.
I did command a squadron. I did because I believed I would do so.
I believed I would do so because my mentor told me I could. If he believed, how could I not believe?
If you are in a leadership position, you do have moments like these you can define in path to success and achievement.
To the opposite end, if you have not achieved the success you are seeking, you most likely cannot find a real mentor power moment. This was the case in my first efforts to succeed building a business online using the internet.
When I grasped how important it was to have mentors much like I did throughout my Navy career, I then realized it was time to do the same for my non-navy career. When I did, life changed again.
The first step in success is having a mentor or mentors.