Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Master?

When was the last time you saw a master at work in his craft? For me, it was last Thursday and his name is Marco.

Marco was born in Italy and now lives in Costa Rica. Though he's been spearfishing his whole life, he told me he's been at it for "20 or so" years. On the way out to his boat, he offhandedly mentions he's "won some competitions and stuff" when I pry for more details.

Only later out in the water do I realize how much of a master he is.

Marco is an amazing hunter. He wears a camouflage suit, dives down 45-60+ feet like it's nothing, and stays down there forever. He can easily dive much further. That's just how far I saw him dive on Thursday.

Every movement of his fins, his head, or his eyes is as fluid as the water he's in. He's a Michelangelo in the water with a spear gun for a paint brush.

We stayed out there for hours. I worked so hard and was desperate to catch something.


Throughout the day, I swam deeper on a single breath than I have in my entire life and still came up with nothing. At one point I may have even prayed for God to bring a fish in front of me to shoot.

And still I caught nothing. My sinuses still hurt two days later from the pressure of the mask against my face and the equalizing I wasn't doing quickly enough.

Marco caught a ton. I think he caught 8 or so, but I lost count because our driver was constantly making fillets so there would be room enough in the buckets.

Many times I tried to copy his actions, but I never even saw the fish he was getting. He would swim down so far I could barely see him, and the visibility was amazing. The man was a machine, staying down for what had to be minutes at a time.

At one point during the trip, I saw Marco educating our driver (a new guy Marco was trying out) on a better way to cut fillets. It was a flurry of Spanish, but I could tell he was being patient and specific.

He was teaching and training.

Back on shore, we rolled up to a restaurant in Brasilito where Marco had some friends. They agreed to cook up some of the fish he just caught, and we had an amazing lunch.

Marco's English is fairly good and my Spanish sucks, but is improving daily. As we stumbled through our vocabulary short-comings, he started explaining to me some things which may have given me more success. He talked about going down deep and then just stopping. Waiting. Sitting at the bottom and making slow movements with your head to look for the fish. He commented on the gun I was using and even mentioned a friend I could borrow from next time. He explained how important practice is and getting your lungs in shape.

Later I realized he was mentoring me. He was the master and I was the apprentice.

That used to be the normal way to transfer skills from one generation to the next. But how often do we see it today?

I've heard many of my entrepreneurial friends talk about the value of mentors. In a recent Entreleadership Podcast, Michael Hyatt said if he could tell the 10-years-ago version of himself one thing, it would be to hire a mentor much sooner. Most intelligent people understand we can't do great things completely on our own. We all need an outside view, someone with great experience and wisdom.

So why are they so hard to find? Why aren't there more Marcos in the world?

I think part of the answer is, they are there, we just don't know about them. They are busy honing and enjoying their craft. Marco fishes just about every day and he's often alone (though friends and tourists pay good money to join him). Mentors have to be sought out and, usually, they have to be paid.

I was shocked to hear how much some of my friends pay the mentors in their lives. It's an investment and from everyone I hear who has made it, a really good one.

So this is something I'm hoping to take more seriously. I need more mentors and I need to mentor others. I have a lot of peer groups that I'm extremely grateful for, but there's something about spending time with a master that simply can't be equaled.

Do you have mentors in your life? How did you find them?

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Mike Henry said...

Sounds like a fun experience. I have been craving more mentorship in my own life. One desire for my next job is to be able to work in a team environment which fosters mentorship between developers who are passionate about growing and learning. To be able to learn from others who are more experienced with some of the things I want to learn (and to help with challenges we might face together), and in turn to be able to share what I've learned with others.

Just because someone is good at something doesn't mean they will be a good mentor. You wrote that Marco was patient and was "teaching and training". I think those are some of the desirable qualities in a mentor.

P.S. I like how you are asking questions in your blogs. Hope next time you get to spear some fish!

Luke Stokes said...

Thanks Mike! It was a great experience, but also a really difficult one. I worked hard! I went out again this past Friday and _again_ caught nothing. Marco only got 4 that time... and I at least shot at a couple, so that's an improvement.

Maybe I'll just stick to buying fish from him.

Any way... yes, a skilled person isn't automatically a mentor, but also I think it's something that can be taught. I used to suck as teaching people (you may remember when we worked together), but after leading a team at Dave Ramsey, I improved a lot.

I hope you find an awesome team and some great mentorship at a new opportunity.

Dave Delaney said...

Great story Luke. Have I mentioned how jealous I am of you lately? No? Ok. Done.
Working with Jumpstart Foundry has helped me learn about the importance of mentorship. I always love to meet with smart people like @marcuswhitney, @jtodwork, @jaxn, @nicholasholland, @johnmorgan, and many others. But I must admit that I don't have a mentor. Some days I wish I did.

John W. Ellis said...

What an amazing story and analogy Luke. Keep up the photos coming!

Luke Stokes said...

Thanks Dave!

I believe you could do this also. Meet with your clients remotely via Skype/Google+ and live anywhere in the world. :)

Yeah, the community in Nashville is truly incredible. I do miss it. Peer mentorship is so valuable, but I do think there's something special about training under a master who works with you as an apprentice and can take you to a new level. I'll be looking for that over the next year or so. I have a few friends already paying for coaches and mentors and they swear by it.

John Morgan said...

Great story Luke! I can echo your thoughts about mentors. I've always had them and spend thousands a year on them. It's always been worth every penny. As a coach it's rewarding when someone takes action and gets results. Your efforts in fishing and studying Marco are a true testament to your willingness to learn and APPLY. That's something very few people have my friend. Keep it up!

Dave Delaney said...

Good point. The thought has crossed my mind. :)
Where did they find the mentors? I'm curious what that process was like.

Luke Stokes said...

Thanks John! We would have had some from Playa Flamingo today, but the camera batteries died. :)

It's such a blessing to be able to spend the afternoon with my family and work at night. It doesn't matter where I am, I'm going to keep living this way. Life is too short not to fully live it.

Luke Stokes said...

Thanks for your perspective, John. It seems everyone I encounter who has had true mentors in their lives can't say enough good things about the value they bring.

Application does seem to be the key, doesn't it? Many of us have the same opportunities, but few take what they've been taught and actually do something worth noticing. Hopefully one of these trips I'll actually catch something. :)

I've really enjoyed watching your relationships unfold as more and more industry leaders notice your book and the great work you do. Thanks for stopping by.

Luke Stokes said...

Each person I've talked to has a different story. Some through coaching/mentoring organizations, others through relationships. I got invited to a luncheon for one organization but unfortunately missed it being out of the country. I'm hoping they let me come to the next one.

As I find out more about the process, I'll definitely let you know.