...serenity in pastel
I am an information hoarder. Do I have someone’s phone number from 5 years ago? Yes. What does my reference library look like? It cannot be contained by mere bookshelves and tumbles down stairs. In this age of handheld gps, I have a road atlas. I try not to keep ancient records, but I keep many of them. Why? You never know what information you need to have, and everything can be a resource. The best resource of information comes from experience and it doesn’t have to be my own. That is why I hoard phone numbers.
As an artist in several education programs, i.e.; MAP, Spokane Art School Residency Program, art teacher, we talk about mentors. Let me clue you in, everyone and anyone can be a mentor. Mentors are defined as “an experienced and trusted adviser”, and can be anyone who has experience or advise that you can use. I have a gallery owner that I shamelessly call and see 2-3 times a week, (Spokane Gallery, Dishman Mica Rd) and she is a rich source of information. She doesn’t have every bit of information that I need so I call a couple pastelists I know. I know several executive directors that I can hit up for advice in a pinch and their information is completely different. I have other experienced people that I can speak with who are all over the spectrum; auto mechanics, lawyers, accountants, trades people…. Do you see where I am going? Don’t limit your information pool to one area, and never ever discount the knowledge that people can share. Take the time to listen to what they have to say.
One of my favorite mentors is an Uncle I have. He is an uncle by choice, I actively choose him to be in my family. Duane is a deep pool of experiences and self mined information. A versatile thinker and incredibly innovative, this creative genius is always shocked that not only did I listen but that I also treasure the lessons he taught me. He has been one of my favorites for so many reasons over the years but ultimately, he has given me such great advice and information.
The other key to your mentors is that you must actively listen. Perhaps that is what shocked my Uncle Duane, I listened to him. When you ask, respect them by listening. Listen to all of what they have to say. Buy them a cup of coffee, sit down with them and invest time to be there. That is one of the ways you pay them back. The second way to pay for your mentorship, is to pay it forward.
When someone asks, I answer. I give my information without any reservation. I tell people how I do and the tools I use. It isn’t like they can steal anything from me when I share. It costs me nothing and it honors those who have shared so generously with me in the past. I share contacts (with their permission of course) and suppliers, tools and resources. I doesn’t hurt me and it costs me nothing but time. So save those phone numbers, keep your resources, hoard your books and listen. The value is there and when we lift each other up, we can reach great heights together.