Great mentors show perpetual curiosity. And my greatest mentor, Ray Bell, was all about curiosity. Daddy asked me questions to which he did not know the answer. That always stood in stark contrast with the experiences I witnessed in many of my friends’ parents. My buddies seemed to frequently get questions asked with the slam of a spring loaded bear trap. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” was not really an “I lost my watch” kind of question? But, Daddy never used questions that way. When he asked a question it always meant he was in search of an answer. I came to realize it was evidence of his perpetual curiosity.
On family driving trips, we stopped at every historical road sign. We had long Sunday afternoon discussions provoked by queries like, “What do you reckon Charles Dickens meant by that?” or “I wonder what Julius Caesar might have been feeling when that happened?” He took things apart just to see how they were made. He watched squirrels build a nest and then launched into a question-filled discussion of nest-building genes or weather sensing skills. Great mentors never stop being curious…they view themselves as learners more than teachers. And, they are both passionate and unabashed in their exhibition of non-stop inquisitiveness.