Who is your Mr Miyagi?

In the 1984 blockbuster The Karate Kid, Daniel moves to a new high school where he is bullied by a popular group of boys. His Japanese neighbour — Mr Miyagi — teaches him Karate. But Mr Miyagi became more than Daniel’s Karate coach.

He became Daniel’s life coach.

There are countless other examples of heroes who only conquered adversity and found their destiny after getting help from an inspirational guide. Luke Skywalker was guided by Yoda in Star Wars, Simba by Mufasa in The Lion King, and in real-life, Mark Zuckerberg was guided as a young entrepreneur by none other than the legendary Steve Jobs.

No matter how much we have achieved, we all have or need our own Mr Miyagi. They walk beside us and illuminate the darkness on our road of life, especially if it were the road less travelled. They give us the push we need in the right direction, the right connection, or that word of advice that turns our life around and helps us fulfil our potential.

In The Room, we aim to match our members with their own ‘Mr. Miyagi’. We call them Pathfinders. This week, we speak with Chris Rowse, The Room’s Chief Pathfinder (and one of the world’s top executive recruiters for the last 14 years); and Penny Handscomb (a seasoned Pathfinder, globally recognized leadership development coach and senior advisor to The Room) about the value of these lifelong career partnerships.

Guidance, Accountability and an External Point of View

No one in life is perfect and everyone can continue to develop. Quite often, high achievers can feel frustrated and unfulfilled, despite everything they have achieved in their career.” To combat these feelings, Chris suggests that “we all need a guide and a connector to push us beyond what we perceive to be our limitations.” A non-judgemental advisor who will partner with us on our personal development journey and who keeps us accountable to fulfil our professional goals and personal mission.

But beyond just having a guide, we also need “a sherpa, a champion, a navigator who is as aligned with our interests as we are,” as Penny explains. She further adds, “In this new normal, having an external point of view on our decisions isn’t optional — it is vital if we want to come through this ok. The more senior you are, the more exposed you are to current unknowns.”

It is essential to have multiple, deeply trusted viewpoints in order to achieve your mission and stay true to your purpose. As Penny warns, leaders can’t afford to risk their careers on only one set of eyes looking out for the path through the unknowns. She explains, “It can be very lonely when leading. It’s critical to have someone willing to actually stand alongside you — helping you find meaning underneath your words and challenging your unstated assumptions.”

Coaching and Thought partnership

Your Pathfinder, says Penny, will tell you the difficult things that your friends and family won’t. They will create a safe space for you to be vulnerable. They will be your cheerleader one day and your defender the next. Most importantly, “Your Pathfinder will Inspire you to dream from a place of wholeness, hope and authenticity — rather than react from a place of fear, uncertainty or vulnerability.”

“I had a Pathfinder in my life,” recalls Penny. “He was always in my court — like a coach. He was also paternal-like at times and trusted advisor at other times. He was a thought partner who helped me see a different mental model because of my unconscious assumptions that were embedded in perhaps the wrong framework. He also felt accountable for whether I succeeded or failed. That is the essence of a great Pathfinder.”

“I am a big believer that you should expect and encourage your Pathfinder to be open and honest with you — to challenge your thinking,” Chris suggests. “This allows the Pathfinder to gain a deeper understanding of your authentic self and aspirations. We all need an honest mirror held up to our thoughts, ideas and decisions, as well as a supportive nudge at times.”

The Right Connections and Co-creating your future with you

“Your Pathfinder will strive to help you become a better version of yourself,” says Chris. “They will do this by advising you on how to navigate around challenges in your career path and connecting you with other members in the community who can help you reach your true potential.”

Chris adds that as your Pathfinder gets to know you, they will partner with you to co-create the future you want for yourself to help you achieve your mission. “In this current COVID environment many members I’ve spoken with are re-evaluating what is most important to them as they reassess their work-life balance and are asking internal questions around what they are personally doing to help society during these troubled times. One of the joys I find as a Pathfinder is having these discussions with our members, knowing how much value they can contribute to society and our fellow members.”

Penny reminds us that real champions always have advisors around them. “No one makes it to Wimbledon or turns up without a coach. No one, no matter how dominant. If you want to keep progressing — or keep ahead of your competition — you need a Pathfinder.”

In The Karate Kid, Mr Miyagi reminds Daniel, “The answer is only important if you ask the right question.”

As in any successful relationship, it is a two-way commitment. Your Pathfinder asks the right questions, you find the right answers and together you co-create solutions in your professional journey in the short, medium and long term. We look forward to introducing you to your Mr Miyagi.

Chris Rowse & Penny Handscomb

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