As Mother’s Day approaches, we see a lot of sentimental, nostalgic praises from folks claiming they inherited this or that from their Mamas! And while mothers can certainly be the most important influencers in our lives, I’ve found that it’s also a blessing to have a mentor – or several – who truly care about your personal and career advancement and are willing to share the knowledge and expertise they have accumulated.
Wikipedia defines mentorship as “a relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The mentor may be older or younger than the person being mentored, but he or she must have a certain area of expertise.”
In a world that is so hyper-focused on personal goals and achievements, I am more grateful for the people who took time out of their lives to mentor me, even though for years they were unaware I considered them my mentors. There are two women in particular who truly helped me change the course of my life, both personally and professionally. Without these women, I have been able to become the woman I am proud to be today.
For me, becoming an adult was not the easiest thing to do. At the age of 20, I moved from my sleepy Western New York home to Boston where I became a live-in nanny for a single mom and her two young sons. Little did I know at my interview (which included one child suffering an asthma attack and the other pulling a bookshelf on top of himself, with a most bloodcurdling scream) that the direction of my life would change. We took the leap and it has been an amazing journey.
From this first mentor I would find unconditional love, support and inspiration to be a better person. I learned to let go of the bullshit. I learned that my creative weirdo had a place in the world. I saw the kind of person I wanted to be-right there in front of me, in action and it helped me become more confident. She encouraged me to do better and be better, even though some of that encouragement was lost in some of my remaining self-doubt.
Life goes on. The boys I nannied for grew up and it was time for me to move onto the next phase of my life and career. I worked hard after nannying and had two very successful jobs that taught me about the business world.
I eventually landed in South Florida and took a temp job as a front desk receptionist for an up-and-coming health brand. I was thrilled to know a position opened in their marketing department and was asked if I would like the position. I stayed with that company for almost 15 years in one way or another. I worked with some amazing people but finding that next person who would help change the course of my life.
She is a mighty spitfire in a petite package. We instantly clicked and she took me under her professional wing and became a part of my growing family. I recently let her in on a little secret: that while she didn’t realize it, she taught me what she knew and lit the fire under my ass to keep on going. She is blunt, she is direct, she is as honest as it comes and its helped push me to my limits and beyond. I found something that I love doing, and it helped me tap into my creative weirdo and be successful.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to give either of these amazing, powerful, wonderful, beautiful, amazing women an ounce of what they’ve given me, but I hope that they read this and know that their simple gift of themselves helped this lost college dropout find some purpose in her life. I hope that I may in some small way be able to impact someone else the way they have impacted my life.
As a single mother of a special needs and neurotypical child, I don’t often have the ability to give financially but whenever and wherever I can I give the most of me that anyone can handle. I am continuing their ripple effect. As we go through life we are always looking to better ourselves and don’t often think about how we can impact others. It’s as easy as giving a bit of you through a smile, a hug, an opened door, a shoulder to cry on. Never underestimate the power of giving of yourself as a mentor to others.