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Creativity and the Power of Mentors

tango-dancers
via Pixabay

“You need go within and find what this music feel like,” he said in his broken English. Roberto had a way of conveying these simple lessons despite the Argentinian language barrier.

I remember that first time walking into the little studio in Berkeley. Like Alice in Wonderland I had no idea how far down the rabbit hole tango was about to take me.

Growing up in a traditional Asian American home, I was expected to step into one of the accepted flight paths - doctor (like my dad and brother,) lawyer or engineer. While I tried to sidestep a little by joining the military, it was only after getting out that I really colored outside the lines!

After a brief stint at AT&T I stepped into the wide world of entrepreneurship. It started with getting my real estate license, but that never felt like my thing. Having earned an MBA I felt that my education could be better used to help others.

So, I started helping owners to buy and sell businesses. During this time I started taking Learning Annex classes. It was one of these when I first encountered Julia Cameron and the Artist’s Way.

Even though by now I had started going to tango events like a junkie, I still didn’t think anything of it. Cameron talked about how we’re all recovering creatives, but I just consider myself “creative.” That was something that liberal arts types did.. I was an engineering by training with a business background.

Meanwhile, I would occasionally help Roberto with classes or pitch in to set up for events. I did it mostly because I watched this handyman by day / tango teacher by night work so hard. Eventually, something gave.

One day Roberto didn’t show up to teach. In a panic his wife and partner asked for help, so some other student friends and I stepped in. Eventually, we ended up creating an organization to promote tango.

I’m still reluctant to call myself “creative.” With a shrug I’ll admit that it’s something that I just do. But slowly I find myself in a role where others need me to help lead the way.

There’s the roles that we think we want to do or should do. There’s others that the world calls us to do. Somewhere in the middle is our sweet spot.

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