Champions of our journey: mentors

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Champions of our journey: mentors

This afternoon, I received such a great surprise. My mentor texted me she was in town and wanted to see if I had time to get together. I was elated. This woman has been one of my biggest champions in this journey called life and I’m grateful beyond words to have her as a part of it.

I was paired with her as a part of my College Leadership Florida program well more than a decade ago (man, I’m growing up!), and the stars must have been aligned just right because we are a perfect match. What I love most about her: she asks the right questions, she challenges me, yet always supports me, she always believed in me and she has been one of my very best friends. Her formal commitment to me was only that one year, but we’ve stayed connected to this day. She even stood with me when I got married as one of my bridesmaids (I bet she thought she’d never do that again!).

Our time together today reminded me about how important it is to have mentors in our lives. To have those objective, supportive, experienced individuals to help us through our journey. And, I think about how important it is to give back, to turn around and support someone yourself. I’ve been a mentor to a few amazing young women, and it has been such a joy to see them grow in their careers.

Why is mentorship important? Well, I think it is all about being in an authentic relationship. Mentorship comes in many forms: friendships, colleagues and sometimes, competitors. It doesn’t have to be something formal, just real. You could have many of these kind of people in your life for the various parts of it…your career, motherhood, a spiritual journey or a hobby.

Mentors are great champions. They can be a source of great inspiration. They can talk you through a tough time and give you wonderful perspective. They cheer you on when you need it the most. They believe in your dreams and support you in achieving your goals.

They are someone who can help keep you grounded. We’ve all had our ups and downs. As we go through this life journey it is important to have an experienced, objective person to point out things you may not see yourself. One of the greatest things my mentor taught me was truly evaluating my strengths and what I loved to do in life. She drew this matrix for me, and to this day, I still think about it when making a career decision, and I’ve shared it with others myself (I also love this Venn diagram).

Mentors open doors. Yes, they can help open doors by introducing you to people, but more importantly, they open the doors of your own possibility. They can help you see things that you might not notice on your own, and they can encourage you to overcome your fears.

I think it doesn’t matter if you are the mentor or the mentee, you learn from each other. The relationship is a blessing and one that will have a positive impact on your life. I know my mentor will read this, and I try to tell her as often as I can that she has been such an important part in the fabric of my life.

I just wish more of us actually did this. So, even though you may not be an “official” mentor to anyone, your relationship with someone just may mean the world to them. Why don’t we all do what we can to lift each other up instead of tearing each other down? Take time to learn from those ahead of you in life and those behind you. The joy is in sharing and learning from each other…oh, and to be present in those moments.

Who has been your mentor or an important anchor in your life? I want to hear about them and would love to recognize them (and your stories) on my blog! Post in the comments below.



  1. Sarah April 23, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I loved reading about this and am happy to share about my amazing mentor, Pam, who has really encouraged me in my career and my personal life. She supervised me during an internship, gave me extra opportunities and mentoring during my first “real” job (going way above and beyond what she needed to do since she wasn’t even my official supervisor,) wrote letters of recommendation that helped me get into graduate school, and helped me evaluate what I really wanted out of my personal and professional life. A few years ago when I was trying to decide whether I wanted to go on to a Ph.D program or not, she listened to what I was saying (and what I WASN’T saying) and gave me the amazingly wise piece of advice, “just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” She made me realize that my feelings and values are valid, even if they seem counter-cultural, and she gave me permission to be “less than” my seeming potential so that I could be “more than” in the areas that ARE important to me. Obviously, I could go on about Pam for a long time, but the bottom line is that she continues to provide encouragement throughout each step of my life and that I am really grateful for her. And like you said, I don’t think I have told her recently how much she means to me. Thanks for helping me to realize that I should recognize her…now, to come up with an appropriate way…

    • Jessica
      Jessica April 24, 2013 at 7:29 am

      Sarah, wow, this is amazing. I loved reading this. I’m so thankful for all the Pam’s and the Barbara Ann’s of this world. And, I’m so happy that you had this kind of relationship, too. Thank you for sharing!!

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