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Mentoring to Help Your Profession Thrive

"Mentoring is a professional responsibility to see your industry thrive."

This is what Sheila Forte-Trammell, Global Chief of Mentoring at IBM and author of Intelligent Mentoring and Agile Career Development, told me during a recent conversation. I found this particular statement quite profound and one that provided me a richer and more personal meaning for mentorship.

An amazing role model of this philosophy is Dr. Ephraim Engleman, who at age 103 leads an illustrious medical career at Stanford in the field of arthritis. I first heard of him from my high school daughter, who went on a tour of the Stanford Blood Center with her classmates. She came home that night very inspired after hearing his son, Prof. Edgar Engleman (MD of Stanford Blood Center), share his research and the amazing things that happen at the Center. Amidst his talk, Prof. Engleman also mentioned his 103 year old dad, who really intrigued first my daughter and then me. I thought to myself: "How many stories, experiences, and pearls of wisdom would this man have gathered during his long career, especially over the amazing 20th and 21st centuries?"

During a follow-up visit to the Center with my daughter, I happened to find a copy of this newspaper article that featured the elder Dr. Engleman’s illustrious medical career of 70+ years. It also described how he got into rheumatology after measuring a woman’s heart murmur without a machine, how Dr. Philip Hench of the Mayo Clinic inspired him with a demonstration of Cortisone for treating arthritis, his penchant for playing violin, and so on.

Reflecting on Sheila’s profound statement, I asked myself: "Isn’t this what Dr. Engleman is doing, i.e. passionately practicing and sharing his infinite wisdom with the next generation of arthritis specialists?" The article may not have touched upon this, but in my view, he is mentoring. He is ensuring that the field of arthritis thrives and reaches new frontiers, and he is still practicing as to pass on the baton to the next generation of doctors and specialists.

Kudos to you, Dr. Ephraim Engleman. May you be blessed with great health and many more years of stellar contributions to the field of medicine.

In closing, my deeply held view is that we learn a lot more from each other than from books. Take any career - music, teaching, carpentry, hardware design, nursing, dance, marketing, banking, entrepreneurship and so on. Books and websites can give us the basic knowledge and know-how, but real mastery can be achieved only by observing, interacting with, and learning from other experts. By asking intelligent questions, you can draw out richer wisdom from experts that they themselves may not realize they had. Context plus conversations bring out the true expertise, and this is what our clients are facilitating with our platform. Mentoring is a proven way for true wisdom to be passed on from one generation to the next, and Dr. Ephraim Engleman is a living testimony of that.