Richard Connor: None of us succeeds without a guiding hand

Anyone who succeeds and tells you they did it on their own either has amnesia or an ego gone wild.

We all need a boost here and there, both in everyday life and especially in careers. This issue of the Business Press recognizes those among us in our community who have been mentors and helped others in measurable ways.

One woman nominated a well-known political figure and businessman who just happens to be her uncle. Another wrote glowingly of her boss who ran a Fortune 500 local company in its glory days. She has now become a community and business leader.

It’s sad but true: “Good” bosses are hard to find. Most people can cite more bad ones than good ones. When you get a boss who leads and inspires and teaches and who sets a great example, you remember – or you should.

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I’ve had several bosses whose guidance was crucial in preparing me to seize opportunities in my life and career. In my high school and college days I had many coaches but only two stood out – and both left indelible marks on my life.

Reading about the mentors we honor on Nov. 8 made me reflect. In many cases we think of mentors only in business. But I thought of my parents, both of whom were strong-willed, indomitably but quietly spiritual, and forceful, outspoken advocates for my brothers and me. Both worked hard. My father left the house early each day, before the sun was up, was home by 6 for dinner and worked six days a week at his own business. When business was slow he was often the only employee.

My mother read up to five books a week and, with two babies at home and a husband who volunteered to serve his country in wartime, opened a library for servicemen at an airbase during World War II. From her I learned to love words. My father was on a ship that was blown up in the Pacific Ocean; he floated for a long time and ended up on a beach. He lost most of his hearing but survived. That’s all I was ever told. He believed in the power of prayer said alone.

My father’s business was construction and he worked with people from all walks of life. Sometimes they were day laborers working for just enough money to buy liquor or whatever they used to blunt the pain. My father treated them with great respect and he helped them in many ways. He taught me that everyone deserves respect and human dignity.

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The early lessons imparted by my parents not only gave me a solid set of principles to take into the world, they helped me to understand and appreciate the value of a guiding hand as I traveled the pathways of life and business – the kind of guiding hand offered so admirably by the outstanding recipients of our 2017 Business Press Mentor Awards.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at