Thank your mentors
We can stand on the shoulders of giants.
Having mentors can allow us to utilize lifetimes’ worth of wisdom, well beyond our own years. Mentors can take many forms, but each is capable of giving us a head start, simply by sharing the lessons that they have learned through their experiences:
- Active mentors engage with you. They provide insights, answer questions, and help you tackle problems as they arise.
- Passive mentors are often described as “role models.” They can provide guidance through explanation and demonstration, perhaps without even knowing it.
- Formal mentors know the role that they are serving. Maybe you asked them to mentor you. Maybe they offered to mentor you. Maybe they were assigned to mentor you.
- Informal mentors teach without a title. Friends and colleagues can serve as great, informal mentors.
In my experience, people who are truly successful are generally eager to serve as mentors. They may recognize that they have developed a “special sauce” and don’t feel threatened to share it. For some, mentoring can be an opportunity to cement their legacy or serve as a way to advance something that they are passionate about (such as a profession or social cause).
Teachers are naturally inclined to share their knowledge and are generally pretty accessible to their students (and even former students).
Coworkers may embrace you as a mentee because it is a way to elevate their own status. Assisting you might allow them to demonstrate their leadership skills and expertise. Maximizing the productivity of a mentee could also make the mentor’s own work easier or allow them the ability to focus on more interesting or difficult challenges.
Whatever the relationship dynamic may be with your mentors, don’t underestimate the invaluable opportunity before you.
A mentor pushes me up to the podium to accept recognition, from the President & CEO of the Cincinnati Museum Center, for my contributions to the Kenner And The Building Of An Empire exhibit.
Personally, I feel very blessed to have a variety of amazing mentors in my corner. Because of the relationships that I have developed with my mentors, I have been given invaluable opportunities to both realize my own potential and to have the platform to shine. My mentors have helped me to set and achieve goals that I simply would not have imagined on my own.
I was recently reminded, “Don’t forget to thank your mentors, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.” Since yesterday marked two years since the passing of one of my most impactful mentors, I decided to write this post in dedication to her and the lessons that I had gained from her.
Marge was a great teacher, artist, mentor and friend. I remain perpetually grateful for the many evenings that she stayed at school late, allowing me the time to perfect a portfolio of large-format, film prints in her photography darkroom. When the jurors of my work assumed digital manipulation, she and I laughed at the absurdity. That experience, with Marge, helped me to grow comfortable with pursuing accomplishments which might only win my own approval—the liberation to pursue whatever brings me joy.
It was difficult not having been able to say a proper ‘goodbye’ to Marge, so I hope that this post inspires you to take a moment and thank your mentors.