Rufus, Relationships, & Rewards
“Listen to this dude Rufus. He knows what he’s talking about.”
- Bill S. Preston, Esquire - Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
I’ll be honest; being homebound has put me on a bit of a late 80’s and early 90’s movie kick recently. Between Major League and Dumb and Dumber, I’m not sure if I’m just feeling nostalgic for a time gone by, or if I’m realizing that my years of combing the shelves of Blockbuster for a movie might not have been as fruitless as some might think. Perhaps there were little nuggets of wisdom sprinkled throughout the movies of my youth. To test the theory, we dive headfirst into Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
The year is 1989 and Bill and Ted need help. Ted has a one-way ticket to military school and the future of the Wyld Stallyns is in question if the two best friends can’t find a way to pass their history class. Unbeknownst to them, the fate of the entire universe hinges on the success of the Wyld Stallyns. Enter Rufus, played by the irreverent George Carlin, sent from the future as a mentor of sorts to guide the hapless duo through time to a passing grade and a prosperous future for all. A ridiculous movie and premise to be sure, but what if Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure could teach us something about mentorship?
● Mentees actively seek out the right mentors. In the quote above from the movie, Ted’s future self makes it clear that Rufus is there to help, and his advice should be heeded. Unfortunately, we don’t have our future selves guiding us to find a mentor, but we do have our present selves. We have our values, our goals, and our experience - seek out those people who share your values, understand your path, and have the experience necessary to help (shameless plug, your local Career Consultant can help you here).
● Mentors guide, they don’t “do”, and Mentees put in the work. Rufus wasn’t there to make sure that Bill and Ted passed History or do the work for them, but he gave them the tools, guidance, and confidence so that they could do it themselves. That’s a valuable lesson for mentors and mentees everywhere.
● Mentors provide access to resources, Mentees utilize them to their full potential. In the case of Bill and Ted, the physical resource that Rufus provided was a time machine that brought them face to face with some of history’s greatest individuals. For those of us who lack access to time-traveling technology, mentors can connect us to the people, education, and network to help us grow personally and professionally. Moreover, they ask us the hard questions to bring about real change in our lives - perspective is a resource.
● Mentorship is about relationships, and relationships go both ways. The mentor to mentee relationship is a complicated one. It requires engagement and genuine care on both sides of the coin. The real beauty of it all is that the relationship is the reward for BOTH parties.
In the end, Bill and Ted passed their history class, the military school was avoided, and the fate of the world was secured. But what the Wyld Stallyns really got from their excellent adventure was a series of relationships that enriched their lives. Rufus, their mentor, would return in Bogus Journey, and inexplicably his daughter would play the mentor role in the 2020 reboot of the series. Incongruous plotlines aside, the relationship between our two hapless heroes and the one who helps to guide, connect, and support them endures.
In what promises to be “excellent”, I invite you to listen to Episode 6 of Consultant Conversations, where Keith Soriano, Mike Mueller, Todd Smith, and I discuss the relationships between mentors and mentees. You can find it on your favorite podcast platforms:
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We'd also welcome the opportunity to have you submit topics for the four of us to bounce around over a good cup of coffee. I can't wait to hear what you have in mind.
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