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Mentorship and “A Message to Garcia”

In reflection there is often a time where we may examine our life and point out a specific moment that made an impact upon us professionally and/or personally. It has been said that we are shaped by our individual experiences and if we are lucky, there are mentors who invested in us, challenged us, and prepared us for the next leg of our journey.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of the leaders who made an impact upon my life, W.F. (Dub) Hampton, would surely be carved into my granite of remembrance.

At 19 years old in my first year of college in my hometown of Pensacola Florida, I was afforded the opportunity to work with my former high school teacher in my first technology job. We were at the forefront of the personal computer industry and I was employed to assist in configuring computer systems for small and medium sized businesses.

Mr. Hampton before starting his company had recently retired from teaching, where he taught appropriately for the age, a high school typing class. In fact, it was Mr. Hampton in my 9th grade year who had the honor of awarding me the first “C” on my report card. Typing was a skill he informed me and perhaps accepting the results of my effort that semester was just a foreshadowing of other life lessons to come from this great man.

I worked for Mr. Hampton that first year in college but alas my wanderlust led me to the decision that it was time for bigger and better things, and I announced my plan to transfer to Florida State University and leave my hometown for new horizons. Disappointed I was sure for leaving my first opportunity in the technology world, but that ex-Navy pilot assuredly understood the need for a young man to carve his own path.

It was a few months before my planned departure for Tallahassee that Mr. Hampton gave me a new assignment. I was asked to find a synopsis of a book that he read a long time ago. He was purposely vague about the name of the book or how I was to find the information – but set me on the task.

s a young buck in that day I promised to get to it but alas he had to remind me a few times of his request. A few months later on my last day of work – I went to the local library and found the book “Message to Garcia (Little Books of Wisdom)”. As I read the short text – I quickly learned the message he sought to instill.

In brief the book is about a man (Rowan) being tasked with an important mission and that those who are quick to take action, and complete a task are those that are most valued. As I had delayed on completing what I deemed a trivial, non-urgent assignment – the message of the book hit me directly and further instilled in me that I wanted to be known as someone that can relied upon to get things done for the sake of all involved.

This small task, but huge life lesson was a gift that continues to shape my perspective today. I doubt Mr. Hampton knew at the time the impact that this exercise would have upon my walk, but it is often said that the giver may never know the true impact of the gift.

“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.” – Elbert Hubbard

It is in recognition of Mr. Hampton and the time-tested parable of “A Message to Garcia” that I gift this book to each and every employee in my companies. I would encourage anyone to spend some time with this short read. I can assure you that as we always strive to improve that its message of individual initiative and conscientious in our work is one of high value.

In the end we should all strive to be known as a “Rowan” who can “Carry a Message to Garcia”. Thank you Mr. Hampton.

H. Michael Burgett, TNCR Contributing Writer
H. Michael Burgett, TNCR Contributing Writer
H. Michael Burgett has more than 30 years of experience in the technology sector. He is the founder of CIO Partners, a nationally recognized executive search firm with a niche in the technology sector specializing in top-level leadership engagements.
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