“If you ask an Irishman for directions, he might be quick to answer, Well if I were going there, I would not start here.”
― Steve Stockman
I was going to post pictures of all the snow in my backyard that separates me from my Magnolia - I sunk knee deep in it trying to make a Laura Ingalls-like-trek to the far end of the garden - but then I had other thoughts.
That is the joy of having this kind of a whirling-dervish kind of mind.
What I got to thinking about was mentors.
If we are lucky, we have mentors throughout our lives.
They can be a friend who takes an interest in our well-being and shares a piece of what they know with us or shows us the ropes. My friend Barbie taught me to swim the crawl at a birthday party out at the Causeway when I was a kid.
Pat Garcelon taught me early leadership through the Brownies.
Mrs. McConkey and Mrs. Garnett were two beloved teachers at St. Stephen Elementary School who never appeared to be bored when I would take them some of my writing to read, even though I am sure they often were.
My Professor and then Thesis Adviser Larry Wisniewski taught me to think critically, write better and be a smart ass.
My work colleague Gary taught me to care about the people we were working on behalf of.
Other colleagues like Martine, Jean and Geraldine shared their knowledge freely and became good personal friends.
Others further ahead gave me a hand up - Karen, Edith, Don, Dave. And no surprise - they gave a lot of people a hand up, because that's what dyed-in-the-wool mentors do.
Some became my on-site therapists along the way, such as Roger and Michel, who stopped me from jumping more then once!
And I was mentored by many in the non-profit world who worked tirelessly on behalf of others for often very little pay.
Nowadays, I am humbled by the people mentoring me and supporting me in my new life.
Mostly, though, I would say I was mentored by the people who worked for me. They were always so bright, so much smarter than I was, that all I pretty much had to do was set them off and then get the hell out of their way as they did whatever it was ten times better than I ever would.
What got me thinking about this today?
I was reading an article that asked: "What is the best piece of wisdom you ever got from a mentor?"
I didn't have to think very long.
It was 2001 and I had made a dreadful career mistake. I had changed jobs for money. My personal experience in life is that when you change jobs for money alone, you are never bringing the "whole" you to the job, just the mercenary part of yourself.
I had decided to leave and return to my old job. And while I knew I was making the right decision, I was embarrassed and knew that most people were thinking that not only was I taking a step backwards, I was obviously a pretty flighty person. And probably they were right on both counts.
But lucky for me, I ran into another mentor, Madeleine. She had recently retired and had no idea that I'd left my old job to begin with. I told her of the change and my unhappiness and of my decision to go back to the old job.
"Well of course you're going back," she said. "You're took a job that required the personality of a hothouse flower. You, my dear, are a daisy in the field - you need to be out there spreading seeds and being you."
I never looked back and I was never embarrassed about my decision after she said that.
And did remember her advice when I was making my decision to leave my old job last year. I needed to be spreading seeds all over the place again.
And when my article appeared in the Globe and Mail in late December, the illustrator, who knew nothing about me, painted me walking away in a field of daisies.
I only noticed that for the first time a moment ago when I happened to look up at the picture. Talk about a coincidence....
.... or not.
I'd like to hope that I'd share similar wisdom if asked a similar kind of question by someone seeking my advice.
I do know one thing - you have to pay it forward. I owe it to the people who mentored me along the way to reach out to help others when asked.
So my question today: have you been mentored in your life and do you serve as a mentor for others?
Have a wonderful day out there!