Refusing to Listen

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Way back in the mid-1990s, when I was just starting my career at The Tennessean in Nashville, I was approached by Catherine Mayhew, my editor in the Living Department.

“You have a lot of talent,” she told me, “but you’re immature. We’re going to place you with two mentors.”

The selected men were Brad Schmitt, a really excellent investigative news writer, and Joe Rogers, a columnist. Both were in their 30s, both were very nice, both were smart and wise and experienced and …

I refused.

I was a better writer than Joe and Brad. Hell, I was better than anyone at the newspaper. And a better reporter. I didn’t need their help or guidance. I was 22 and a rising star. Why did I need to listen to anyone? I had all the answers. Mentors? Whatever. Mentors were for people with struggles. I was on a roll.

Shortly thereafter, following what was probably my 20th error of some sort, I was demoted to the police beat. I was devastated.

A mentor or two could have come in handy.

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