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Mentoring Can Bring Out the Artist in You

Who can help a sculptor visualize his end product from a slab of marble? Who can motivate a painter to develop the intricate art of painting? A mentor can! Strolling the cobblestone roads of any Italian town, one can only be awed by the beautiful architecture and the abundance of history. Florence for example is considered the “jewel in the crown of the Renaissance”. If you step back in time and peer at the canvases of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, we can see how mentoring benefited them and how mentoring can benefit us today!

Mentoring in Ancient Times

Mentoring isn’t a new concept. In fact the origins can be rooted back to ancient Greek mythology. During the Renaissance period, mentoring was not done over a quick chat and a cappuccino! It was years of commitment by both parties. It involved fully becoming part of a master’s house, living and sharing meals with the family. This was done to develop strong relationships and to fully absorb the skill at hand.

Leonardo da Vinci –A son of illegitimate parents, he had no possibility to study at a formal college. Having a desire to learn and possessing enormous talent, at the age of 14 he became an mentee to Andrea del Verrocchio, one of the most successful artist of his day. It was from there that mentor Verrocchio, saw the potential artist in Leonardo. Verrocchio was able to guide, inspire, shape, instruct and share his experience. Did it pay off? Absolutely! Here is a work on which they collaborated together.

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Painted by Verrocchio and Leonardo—painted the angel to the far left


Could you imagine the deep conversations that were exchanged between these two? No doubt young Leonardo felt honoured and privileged to participate on that project. Leonardo was able to use his mentorship to become a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer and scientist! As Leonardo said “Learning never exhausts the mind”.

Michelangelo –If you need a lesson on problem solving or thinking outside the box, perhaps Michelangelo could “mentor” you!   Michelangelo had two mentors that contributed to his career. At the age of 13 he became the apprentice of Domenico Ghirlandajo to learn fresco painting and later at 15, to sculpt, under the apprenticeship of Bertoldo di Giovanni, an Italian sculptor.   Years of training, experiencing and learning paid off for Michelangelo. At age 26, he was commissioned to sculpt a large work for the Duomo in Firenze (Florence). The challenge? He was given flawed marble. Where other artists could only see the defects Michelangelo saw the potential. Peer into his thoughts as he quoted here:

In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”—Michelangelo

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David’s eyes look towards Rome



Surely from his mentorship and training shaped his determination to take an innovative approach to solve that challenge.

Mentoring today –what can it do for You

How about you? Perhaps, you won’t be sculpting a David or painting the Last Supper any time soon. However, having a mentor to encourage you and share their expertise for your personal development is invaluable. Like our two famous Renaissance Artists, a mentoring relationship is built on mutual trust, respect and good communication. Both mentor and mentee meet together, regularly discuss goals/progress and exchange ideas with one other. A mentor can help dig out or polish off a gem within us.

Being mentored can:

  1. Create a supportive relationship
  2. Help develop problem solving skills
  3. Increase your self confidence
  4. Enhance your skills

If you are a new HR grad; a person returning back to the workforce; in transition or perhaps a bit stuck in a rut, a little mentoring can help to get your groove on. So go, get your paint brush and chisel ready! Scroll over to the HRPA site and check out the mentor program they have there.

Now it is your turn to stroll the same cobblestones roads walked by Michelangelo and Leonardo by becoming either a mentor/mentee! Positively you will have a delightful experience to treasure.

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