Socrates taught Plato. Plato Taught Aristotle. Aristotle taught someone pretty important, too - Alexander the Great, but back when he was just Alexander the Average, a teenager needing guidance. Greatness sparks greatness. And it always has.
I had an amazing phone call yesterday with an old friend who is three years into building a business that will help change the world for the better. Yeah, it's in tech. But its all about sparking great things through connecting people well. And she reminded me of something interesting. All new business builders need investment money at the outset, and along the way. But what they need most of all is connections - mentors, people to spark them, and guide them, and hook them up them to others who can reveal what it will take to get to the next level, and maybe make that crucial introduction that will change things like magic. Did you ever read Keith Ferrazzi's book Never Eat Alone? It's a great one on the crucial importance of relationships in business.
Who do you spark? Who do you guide? Sometimes, an act of mentoring takes just minutes, or even seconds, to shoot off a quick email with exactly what your friend or young acquaintance needed to hear, or know. Even the dreamers who are great doers need help.
In 1814, Miss Mary Shelley, only 18 years old, was traveling with a group of friends. They challenged each other to a competition. They'd each write a scary story for their mutual entertainment. She pondered for days what she'd write about, and then had a dream that brought together elements of things that they had all been talking over in their time together. She woke up and wrote it down, a great cautionary tale about setting goals without thinking through their consequences, the novel Frankenstein, that offers wisdom on so many levels. It payed off to be hanging out with the likes of Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. And it payed off for them to be with the likes of her.
Who are your traveling mates? Who do you hang out with? When I left Notre Dame years ago, a lady said to me, "Tom, I'm 50 years old, and I always try to have at least one friend much older than I am, and one much younger. The older friend shows me the way forward. The younger one gives me the energy to get there." And I'm sure the sparks flew back and forth among them all.
Wise words. Who do you spark? Who sparks you? Spark on.