Mentors and Mentoring
Without teachers, imagine how long it would take and how painful it would be to learn new stuff. Trial and error over and over again! (That sounds like something Yogi Berra might have said!) I’m lucky that a number of folks have taken me under their collective wings and each in their own way, taught me how to do stuff…(or sometimes how not to do stuff!). There is currently a thread on www.heatinghelp.com at The Wall, titled “Most memorable technician you worked with?” I chimed in about a man I worked with long ago, named Otello. He certainly gave me some different perspectives to work with!
I’ve been lucky with mentors. They have shown me their ways of thinking and their tricks. With multiple perspectives, there becomes almost no problem you can’t get to the root of.
I was taught how to service/rebuild a faucet when I was fourteen, by a man named Hap Hardy, and I’ve been doing it ever since. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to properly fix a faucet. I’m talking about the old style that has a flat rubber washer and a brass seat it rests against. Simply, you reface the seat, giving it a new flat, shiny surface for the rubber to meet up to. You also replace the washer, (or flip it over if the back side is good) and lube everything with faucet grease. It’s not hard. I just had a friend in the SF Bay area who needed this work done on a faucet. She called six plumbers and nobody knew how to do it! And they wanted $150 just to show up. She finally found a handyman who would just change the washer for $75. I need to teach some handy-people how to fix faucets!
This brings me to my next point, which is about passing on what I’ve learned. Being an old guy, it’s my turn to mentor others. Actually I’ve been teaching in some way or another for around forty years. A couple of the guys I’ve worked with went on to become skilled craftsmen in their own right, exceeding my skills in many areas. But I helped get them started. I like sharing what I’ve learned and we really do need the graying workforce to train the next generations, or who will keep all of this infrastructure we have operating?
I’ve got a younger friend who I’m teaching all about the concepts of efficiency. He’s a quick study, so is beginning to understand how so much of what he runs across was done in the normal, inefficient way, and it frustrates him. It’s a good sign that he cares and grasps the underlying reasons for pushing efficiency and durability. Ultimately doing a job well means it will take less of your time and money later. It’s easy to make time for teaching someone who cares. For the novice out there who wants to learn: find a mentor and figure out how you might be useful to that person. I’d happily work on Warren Buffet’s water heater for free if I got to hang around with him and gain some financial wisdom!
The book pictured above was mentioned in an earlier post on teaching. It finally did come out and is bigger and better than before. If you teach or are interested in teaching, this book will quickly move you light years ahead in the art of putting good stuff into other people’s brains.
I take it as my responsibility to those who have mentored me, to help and teach those who are trying now to learn what I’ve learned. They are unlikely to find the info in most schools, other than Union training. Searching for the answer to a question on the internet may help you solve a given problem but doesn’t give you the depth of know how that makes you into an expert. The quickest way to get there is to find a mentor and open your mind so that mentor can pour in some know how!
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Looking back over my working life of 50+ years, it seems clear that self sufficiency has always been the best way for me to be useful. Now, mix in a strong interest in water in its many forms and the wide world of animals and you'll know what's important to me.