Great artist = Bad mentor?

Today’s Daily Post is about mentoring, and what it is all about. That’s a good excuse to reword the question into an art-related inquiry.

What do I understand under “mentoring”?

It is guiding people towards acquiring new skills along the course that they can traverse,  trying not to ground the ship of their development. That’s the poeting version. It may differ from mentoring in the real world, when it is often reduced to keeping the balance of pats and kicks that are administered to the mentoree by the mentor.

Mentoring is built in the nature of my business, and this makes me a mentor for a hundred people. This business is not about arts, but it develops skills I find quite useful when writing on art as well. There are three major skills mentoring helps to develop:

  • Patience: staying patient in the face of impatience or lack of understanding is difficult

A man stands behind a fisherman on the lake shore and watches him fishing. After three hours, the fisherman turns back to face the observer, “You have been watching me fishing for three hours! Why don’t you get your own fishing rod and start fishing?!”. “Oh, no” says the observer, “I don’t have the patience”.

  • Delivering meaning: ability to find the right and simple words and arguments to explain a complicated concept, and to avoid alienating the mentored by pushing too much.


  • Ability to listen in such a way that helps me to understand the capabilities of the person I am mentoring to build an individually tailored mentoring logic. That’s how you avoid pushing, or avoid being noticed at pushing.

Ability to listen is often confused with the talent to wait out a speaker, maintaining a properly knitted brow and nodding occasionally during the speech. 

This picture illustrates my mentoring concept well:


The bonus of successful mentoring is not just a bunch of skills that can be applied anytime anywhere.

It is also the appreciation of the mentor by the mentored, like in this photo taken a couple of years ago at a corporate event. If I ever write a book about mentoring, this photograph will be its sales poster (if all the parties agree, me, in the middle, excluded).


Now that you know what a great mentor I am (with this photograph being the hard evidence), you can realise why I am not an artist.

Great artists can’t be good mentors. Great mentors can’t be good artists.

It is easy to explain this rule (there were a few exceptions that make it a rule, not an axiom).

Great artists never have the patience needed, don’t have time to find words, and don’t care if they are seen as shamelessly pushing their point of view. On the opposite, they enjoy pushing it.

Michelangelo, Leonardo, Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh…. the list is long.

And this is why I can understand and explain art, but can’t create it. I am too much concerned about other people understanding exactly what I want them to understand. I don’t think simply expressing myself is right. Yeah, I am destined to stay a critic.


  1. Cool post. Seems I’m always in a search for a good mentor ) And I’d add something to the list above. Good mentor is able to see a person in his mentored, a partner but not a pawn. Good mentor doesn’t have to be an ideal person (maybe he even has to be NOT ideal) but he should understand his words are caught and his actions are observed and evaluated by his mentored – probably by someone capable enough (if he was a good mentor). If a mentor is not consistent and honest in what he says and does he loses trust and is not a mentor anymore. From the mentored pov I can say that the worst thing here – it puts a shadow not only on what he says/does later, but also on said and done before. Losing mentor is nothing easier than losing pupils you wrote about once.. If you were a good mentor I believe all the parties would agree to be a part of a poster, you should ask. Anyway being kissed by that cute ladies should be not too bad itself! 😉

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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