I often ask people to share their mentoring stories. Who has influenced your
life, the way you think, and what you believe? Who are the people that have
deeply invested themselves in you, and how have they done that? Honestly,
these are some of the most moving stories I ever hear. They are always packed with
devotion and gratitude and wisdom. I learn something from each one of them.
These stories connect us to each other and to what we value most.
My first mentor was my Grandfather. He was a 6-foot-something Irish man, blinded
in a mining accident in his early 20’s. He never laid seeing eyes on his
wife or children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Even so, he went on
to build something from nothing. He was farmer, a fisherman, and my best
friend. We called him “Pop,” and when my Grandmother died he came to live
with us. He was a wonderful babysitter! Oh the places we would go!
We would walk to town – just the two of us – to buy fishing lures and
weights and hooks and bobs. He had memorized the streets by counting the
curbs, so he always knew exactly where we were. That made me feel safe and also, I felt important. He needed me as much as I needed him.
At the time, it seemed pretty simple. I was his eyes and he was
bigger than life! As I look back on it now, there was a whole lot of
learning going on.
Pop taught me that you are never too young or small to have vision for
another – to see things they cannot. From him I learned how to balance
myself when someone is leaning on me for support. I learned to slow down
when the path is uneven, and to communicate clearly what I see.
I smile now when I think of about our trips to town. A small child and a
giant of a man on a great adventure. In many ways, I am still using those
skills. Balancing myself, casting a vision, communicating what I see, and
helping people navigate the rough spots. Those trips to town prepared me for
a much larger mission in life and I am grateful.
Find your own mentoring stories and I assure you, they will resonate. They will remind you of who you are, where you’ve been, and what matters most. Your story has the power
to encourage and equip others. Find your stories and tell them well. In
doing so, you honor both the lessons and the teachers. In short, you reconnect.
In both of my books, Designed for Success and Ready, Set…Grow!, I heartily recommended journaling. The value of writing down your own life lessons and experiences can’t be underestimated. What you’ve learned from mentors is a good writing “assignment” for your personal growth journal. Or you may want to consider a letter of gratitude. Let your mentors know the role they’ve played in your life.
You were built for success and designed to grow!
All the best,