With Mother’s Day this past weekend, I, like many of you, had a nice reminder of how important our mothers are in our lives every single day. When we are young, mothers are our playmates, care takers, safety nets and joy givers. When we are teenagers our mothers can feel like a nuisance as we try to spread our wings, but in the background – certainly not in public, they remain everything they were to us when we were young. When we become adults our mothers, if you are as lucky as I, become additionally, mentors. Women who are shining examples of what we want to become, and perhaps what we have already become. We may try, without realizing, to emulate our mothers in many ways. We may also try, without realizing, to correct behaviors our mothers exhibit we do not respond to.
The point is, a mentor, whether it is your mother or not, is a profound and necessary role someone must play in your adult life. In some cases you may ask someone to be your mentor, but most of the time someone just shows up. And thank god for that! As we grow older, stop going to school and embark on a career path and family life it is so vitally important we do not stop learning and holding ourselves and the people around us accountable for our actions and our forward motion. It is nearly impossible to do this policing of oneself for many reasons, not the least of which being if you start yelling at yourself people will think you are double A craazy.
To me, a mentor is someone who teaches me new things by doing them herself. Preaching at me never did work (countless examples, 500 characters or you will stop reading – I’ll spare you), but what has always worked is simply observing a person doing something right or particularly well. Mentors speak to you as a peer, talking about challenges and successes candidly and earnestly seeking your opinion. Mentors make you want to be better without asking you to. Their standards of excellence, care and skill are elevated in some way that makes you inexplicably want to rise to their level. You start to feel like you want to make them proud; you become therefore accountable for your actions. You carefully calibrate your moves thinking about how your mentor might do it, what your mentor might think – not in some crazy become another person way, but in a way that channels the thinking you admire through the lens of the person you are.
And through all of that – you realize, you have grown. You have matured and learned and changed. All by being someone’s friend, all by opening yourself to the people in your life who have so much to teach you, even though they may not have realized it ever! Business texts constantly preach finding a mentor as a way to learn and identify your business and your brand – but it’s not just for business – it’s for life.
My mom is a mentor to me, always has been and always will be. I hope you all can find one as close to home as I did and recognize the gift you have been given when your mentor shows up on your doorstep throwing down the lessons faster than you can keep up.
Stop crying Mom.
Post authored by Brooke Stone