With Your Help I Can Do It

In the business world, it is not uncommon to hear employees who work in a leadership capacity discuss mentors who were significant in helping them build their careers.

They identified their career goals and were coached on not only what job opportunities to consider, but how to navigate within an organization.

I have had numerous mentors throughout my life. One of them is the reason that I returned to college to earn my Masters of Science in Management and currently serve as a CEO. His insight was invaluable to me. He identified untapped strengths in me and complimented my natural business acumen.

There are several benefits to having a mentor. One in particular is that when you’re charting unfamiliar territory in your personal and/or professional life, someone who has been down that path can point out challenges and “wins” on your journey. They also provide an unbiased perspective to situations and circumstances based on their own professional experiences.

In addition to the guidance that a mentor provides a mentee, there can also be a great sense of accomplishment by helping someone reach their goals.

I recently read an article by Sara Afzal who shared a Boston Globe story written by Billy Baker. In the article, Baker shared how he met and subsequently mentored two underprivileged brothers who attended Boston’s Latin School. In spite of the challenges of their upbringing, one of the brothers was accepted to Yale. This is a great example of what can be achieved when you have a mentor guiding and empowering you to reach your potential.

If you are asking yourself what it takes to be a mentor, I think it takes an interest in helping others and a willingness to be open and honest about your journey. When mentoring children, confidentiality and being able to see the less-than-obvious abilities in a child is “key.” Identifying an untapped skill or helping the child understand that making a bad decision doesn’t define who they are is important.

I know many well-established successful people, who did not have mentors. They set their sights on their goal, met challenges head-on, and didn’t stop until their goal was realized. The irony is while they did not have mentors; they saw the benefits of mentoring and chose to mentor others.

In observance of National Mentoring Month, take a moment and consider what skills, abilities or life’s lessons have you learned that you can share with someone charting a similar path.

“When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become–whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm–her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this.”  ~Sonia Sotomayor

Three Simple Words

SPR2010_CloseUps16The hustling and bustling of the holiday season is in full swing and so are the sales designed to entice us to purchase the latest and greatest or the new and improved!  Everyone likes a bargain. Just look at the lines outside of major retailers for Black Friday sales.

During this holiday season, let’s remember those who mean the most to us.  It is so easy with our busy lives to take those closest to us for granted.  When is the last time you’ve said, I appreciate you? Or, thank you.

There can be a lot of emotion and meaning wrapped up in those three simple words, “I appreciate you.”  Everyone wants to know that what they do and who they are matters.

Try as I’d like, I’m sometimes guilty of not telling those around me, how much I appreciate them.  Then I remind myself, that at the very core of who we are, we all want to make a difference.

We want to feel appreciated because those feelings are the basis of our internal value and sense of worth.  On the contrary, without those values we move around in life seeking our worth, esteem and confidence from people or circumstances that are not healthy.

I’m reminded of the stages of a child learning to walk.  First they learn to crawl. Once that task has been mastered, they start pulling up on furniture.  As their confidence builds, they begin to take their first few steps falling less and less as their confidence continues to build and then they start walking but, our admonishments cannot stop at the toddler stage.

Working with young women and girls, I see the importance of making sure that our youth understand that we appreciate them.  Just as the toddler’s confidence grows when they see what can be accomplished with the support of a parent, what more can be accomplished from today’s youth? With that reassurance, we mature into self-confident adults who feel like we can accomplish anything.

‘I appreciate you’ can make a huge impact in the development of today’s youth. Imagine how they feel when faced with a decision that comes with huge consequences and they have the confidence, and self-worth to make a good choice.

As we wrap up another year, let’s challenge ourselves to encourage those around us by saying, those three simple words, I appreciate you!

Happy holidays!