Weekly Thought – June 5, 2018
Fred was known as a “mentor to a generation of leaders.” Through the Breakfast With Fred Leadership Institute his legacy of mentoring continues. The “What’s Next Roundtable” focuses on mentoring, networking, and persevering. For the month of June the Weekly Thoughts will shine a light on principles of leadership Fred saw in his mentor, Maxey Jarman. This is Fred’s introduction to the article.
Intro to Mentor
I first met Maxey Jarman back in the mid-thirties when I was about twenty. I had been teaching a Sunday School class in a nurses’ training program at Nashville General Hospital. One of the attendees became an industrial nurse, and she introduced me to her boss, the director of personnel. I said to myself, “I’d like a job like that.” I had no training or experience, but I knew General Shoe (later GENESCO) was one company in town where there might be such a position. So, I decided to meet the President, Maxey Jarman.
Maxey always bought gas at the station next to the plant. I waited until he drove up in his red Chrysler, then walked over and introduced myself. We just shook hands. He probably thought it was very strange, but in his early thirties he was rather shy and not very gregarious.
Mary Alice and I had just married and rented out one of our two bedrooms to a factory worker at General Shoe. She told me of some labor problems at work, and I called Mr. Jarman, offering my viewpoint. He invited me to his office. We had a very short conversation, and I heard no more about it. But he impressed me so much I decided to join the men’s Bible class he taught. They had me lead the singing and eventually elected me president of the class.
One Wednesday night after church in 1941, Maxey invited me to have a Coke at the Rexall Drug. We sat on fountain stools, and he asked me what I planned to do in life. “I’d like to be a personnel man,” I told him. He asked if I had any experience, and I said, “No, I’ve never even seen a personnel department. But I met a guy who’s a personnel man, and I’d like that kind of work.”
That night I told Mary Alice I thought he would offer me a job, and no matter what he offered, I was going to take it because I wanted to be associated with him. I sensed then I wanted to know him and work for him for life. There was something significantly different about this man. Being a preacher’s kid in the poor part of town, I’d become cynical about Christians. But Maxey personified reality. This was so valuable to me at that time…here was a real man, a genuine person; and our years of friendship intensified that evaluation. When he offered me a position in personnel, I was elated.
I had never seen a man so serious about wanting to reach the truth. For forty-three years I wrote my observations of Maxey on scraps of paper, everything from church bulletins to napkins. Last year I compiled them – 500 pages of separate paragraphs. I spent three weeks at our lake house doing little but reading and thinking. When I told him about this, he said, “I’m amazed. What a waste of time!”
This week think about:1) Who has influenced my life like Maxey Jarman impacted Fred? 2) What lessons have I learned from my mentors? 3) How have I studied my mentors and put the lessons into play?
Words of Wisdom: “But Maxey personified reality… here was a real man, a genuine person.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Now give me wisdom and discernment so I can effectively lead this nation. Otherwise no one is able to make judicial decisions for this great nation of yours.” (2 Chronicles 1:10 NET Bible)