Mentor is a Gift Word

So late last week I was given the gift of reconnecting with one of the most important mentors that I have had in my life, and as much as it was just a brief encounter, it left me smiling from ear to ear. It reminded me of a great conversation that I had as a guest on a podcast awhile back, where we talked in one section about how the word Mentor is actually a gift word, and a magical, reciprocal relationship that should to be sought out, cultivated and ultimately, celebrated. The podcast was Leading With Curiosity, hosted by my good friend and inspiring executive coach, Nate Leslie, and the episode explored the importance of relationship building in our approach to leadership. The notion of mentorship eventually came up during the conversation and we both agreed, without hesitation, that we wouldn’t be in the positions that we are in today without the amazing mentors that we have had throughout our lives and careers…absolute gifts indeed.

With last week’s reconnection fresh in my mind, I want to talk about the important role that mentors can play in our lives, and how magical these relationships can be both personally and professionally. I think it’s fair to say that anyone who has found success in life can attribute at least a part of that success to the role that a mentor has played along their journey. Good mentors are pure magic, and if you’ve had one in the past, or if you have one right now, it’s important that you seek them out and thank them for the positive influence that they’ve had on your life. I am acutely aware of how fortunate I have been in my life to have had more than just a few amazing mentors, both personally and professionally, who have helped me become the person and leader that I am today…my wife for example, and my parents and siblings, a couple of coaches, and over the past 25 years or so a small group of international school leaders who have inspired me beyond measure. 

These are the people who believed in me, who saw something in me that I hadn’t yet recognized, and who continuously pushed me to always get better. They shared their knowledge with me, they modeled courageous behavior, they constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone, they held me accountable to my goals and aspirations, and most importantly, they gave me the honest feedback that I needed to hear in order to grow. The thing about a quality mentor is that they find ways to tell you exactly what you need to hear in a way that inspires you into action. A great mentor not only shares the truth about your strengths and your areas of growth, they also listen really well and offer advice in a positive and productive way. A great mentor can also be hard to find so when you find one make sure to hang on and take advantage of the gift that will surely keep on giving.

Early in my life and career great mentors just kind of fell into my lap without me realizing it at the moment, and for that I am beyond grateful. Over time however, I learned to seek out inspiring mentors and I’ve even taken jobs, like this one, because of the opportunity to work with leaders who I knew could help me become a better version of myself. Everyone needs a coach or mentor in their life regardless of how successful they’ve become, so if you don’t have that person in your life right now, start actively looking. In most cases, great mentors find ways to make the relationship reciprocal, and are open and eager to learn and get better themselves. Some of the best learning that I’ve ever had as a professional came out of a relationship when I was considered the mentor, but really, we were both learning deeply from each other. That’s the beauty of these kinds of relationships, they often go both ways.

Just so you know, the person that I reconnected with late last week was someone who I met years and years ago when I was just stepping into leadership. I was young and green and eager to learn and this person was so generous with their time and feedback. They went out of their way to share tips and tricks and kind words and encouragement, which at the time meant more to me than gold. They made me feel like I was worthy of leading and pointed out some traits that they saw in me that would ultimately make me successful, and they made a point of sharing those with me. In many ways I have been feeding off of those early conversations and interactions for the past fifteen years, particularly when I need a little boost. Thinking back to that initial and serendipitous meeting in 2010, that person instantly became a special mentor for me in my life, and we’ve been keeping in touch ever since, learning and connecting regularly both in person and from afar. 

With all that said, and with the gift of mentorship now front of mind, I’m asking you to take some time this week to think about the mentors that you’ve had in your life, and to reach out to them, now…thank them, tell them how much they’ve meant to you, and then go and be that person for others. We can all be great mentors to someone if we open ourselves up to it, and we can all be agents of positive change for a friend or for a colleague. If you’re really lucky, you will find one where deep learning and trust goes both ways, and you learn from each other and grow together over time…that’s the real gift. Have a wonderful week everyone, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…

A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself – 

-Oprah Winfrey

Related Articles – 

Great Mentoring Books

How To Be a Great Mentor

The Power of Mentorship

What Does a Mentor Do? 

Inspiring Videos – 

College Dreams

Giving Away a Dollar

Never Giving Up

Funny Photos

10 Things That Made Us Smile

TED Talks –

The 10 Best TED Talks on Mentorship

Artificial Intelligence and Spatial Intelligence

Aspiring Leaders

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