I Saw the Light (thanks to my mentor)
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
This month, we’ll be diving into relationship deeper than we’ve done before. At the root of it all, I believe we have this fiery desire to be seen, known, and accepted as the colorful birds we truly are. Relationship is the hub of this wheel called life and out of it, the spokes of our experience are filtered, tethered, and redeemed.
There are countless types of relationships that create meaning and safety in life. This week, we focus on mentoring, the beautiful and life-shaping relationship that has proven invaluable for me. I must also note that I write this from a place of loss and heartache upon just hearing of the unexpected death of a remarkable woman who I had the privilege of working for several years ago, and who has been a beacon of light, joy, and encouragement for countless lives she’s touched. Robin Holland will be remembered in the Mentor’s Hall of Fame, as she surely mastered this selfless role all along the way. Heaven is a much brighter place with her sweet smile and song, embellishing its general splendor.
One of the best words of advice I ever got early on was this: identify the people who inspire you and are doing the work you love and believe in, and then go align with them in some way, directly or indirectly. This has proven so valuable for me in everything I’ve put my mind to, whether music, business, therapy, or writing.
Connection is King when thriving is our focus, therefore strategically aligning with mentors who have stood in our footsteps and made it out on the other side victoriously is everything. We talk a lot about “finding our voice” here. I’m so passionate about facilitating this process for others not because I have anything remarkable to say, but because I’ve found my wobbly way by walking in the steady footsteps of mentors who’ve graciously given me courage to spread my wings.
I like to think of it this way: when we first start to learn an instrument, we typically do so by learning the well-known, beloved songs of others, not by expecting ourselves to create genius out of nothing. I suppose Mozart and a few others were exceptions to the rule, yet I’m pretty aware of my need to stand on the shoulders of giants in order to one day improvise. Singing cover songs gives us confidence and phrasing that mold and eventually nudge us off the ledge, flapping and flailing our wings of authenticity. A good mentor will always stretch us beyond those comfortable, familiar scales and into the original songs we’re meant to sing.
No matter where we are in our career path or vocation, there is ample opportunity to lean into this beautiful brand of relationship. So what exactly is a mentor? I like Oprah’s simple definition: “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” We all need loving mirrors of hope at different times along the way; those who’ve earned the right to poke holes in our story and offer a flashlight in times of darkness. We also tend to get so weighed down by the narrative of our own scarcity and frustration, we forget about the constant opportunity to lighten our load by sowing into someone desperately in need of hope.
Perhaps John Donne said it best: “No man is an island.” Pride-fueled isolationism is futile. We create and live most fully from a supported, safe place. I make no bones about the fact that I’d be completely lost and in the fetal position of a cold, dark room without the skill, patience, teaching, and opportunities given freely by my mentor, Angela. I’m humbled by her belief in me and beyond grateful for her wisdom and gifting.
Who is your mentor? Are you in a place of transition or confusion as to where you are and where you are going? I’ve been there so many times along the way and know the bleakness of those corners. If today’s post sparked some desire in you for this type of connection, I’d love to help you find this if possible. Also, if you have ideas and insight into this process, please comment below. Loneliness is epidemic in this fast-paced, sprawling world of ours. I deeply desire for this to be a place we discover connection, feed on hope, and run with resilience.
Love & Gratitude,