A MENTOR does not necessarily must be an elder, superior, wise, celebrated, successful personality. Everyone can become a mentor to everyone if s/he delivers some lasting value which influences one’s whole life.
ONE OF THEM WAS A FOREMAN at a contruction site who told me that the concrete mixer has to be more clean in the evening when leaving the building site, than I took it over in the morning. Of course, this is logically impossible, if you look in an interval of a week. But this request motivated me always to deliver the best I could. Until today, assessing my daily work in the evening, I often recall the teaching of this foreman. I understand the deeper sense never to be mediocre, never to compromise, always to long for the best, always to improve even if there seem to be no more improvements possible, to seek excellence.
ANOTHER CONSTRUCTION WORKER taught me a decisive lesson of a pivotal decision which can decide about life and death in a second. He told me stories about wheelbarrows which have pulled workers into death. He narrated the stories as if there was a real dramatic fight between a man and a tool and finally the tool killed the man.
While balancing a wheelbarrow on a small plank over a precipice, it can happen, the wheelbarrow gets unstable. If a worker then tries to re-balance by countering the centrifugal forces with his own strength, he can lose his balance, which on the ground would mean nothing, but on a small plank over a dangerous precipice means everything. If the worker then holds on the unbalanced wheelbarrow to save the load, the tool will pull him into the depth, into death. According to this former colleague such stories happen in real life more than you might imagine. All the wise sounding sayings about ‘to let go’ under these circumstances have a real life saving significance.
This construction worker tought me, it is better to drop a load, as precious it might be, than to lose my life. Until today, weighing the chances of a great opportunity against the risk being pulled down into a precipice, the teachings of this wise construction worker help me to assess my abilities to find a balanced judgment.