The Mentor, the Mentee and Some Dude Named General Garcia

I suffered another embarrassing failure trying to sound smart to one of my mentors today.

The full truth is that I didn’t have answers to some questions they asked regarding a project he felt I had some overexposure on. It wasn’t a fool’s errand, they have my best interests at heart. But I had failed to adequately have the right conversation with my boss however, so I didn’t get the answers I was looking for.

Trying to camouflage the fact that I didn’t have any answers, I told him the parable, “A Message to Garcia”.

It’s a cool story. In a nutshell, war breaks out and a leader needs to get a message to “General Garcia” somewhere deep in the jungle behind enemy lines. A person named Rowan is entrusted this task by the leader and leaves on their mission. Three weeks later they emerge from the jungle having delivered the message to Garcia.

The author, Elbert Hubbard, goes on to say that these are the people we should be building monuments to.

Maybe we should be building statues of those who  carry out the damn mission, no questions asked. Rowan didn’t ask where Garcia was, or how to spell the name, or where to start, or what provisions were needed. They simply took the message and carried it to Garcia.

After finishing the parable to my mentor I leaned back in my chair expecting my philosophical curveball to have impressed him.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. His next comment was “That’s a cool story, but you aren’t trying to find some guy in a jungle; you’re dealing with people and their paychecks.”

Message received.

Back to the drawing board.

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