The Mentor in Me

April 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” ~ Bob Proctor, Author, Speaker and Success Coach

It recently occurred that the first two letters in the word mentor are ME. I was musing on that after a colleague told me she sees me as a mentor and thanked me or my support.

When Angie Saltman, who operates Saltmedia, a web development company in Grande Prairie, mentioned this, I hadn’t realized I’d had an impact through our discussions about business.

But that’s the way it is with mentoring. You can be teaching without necessarily realizing it. It was particularly noteworthy because Angie is someone out in the community as there was no thought of providing anything more than casual advice.

“When we first met, I was taken with how confident you are and I realized I needed to work on that part of me,” Angie told me. Saltmedia has been in operation for three years. “I appreciated how you’ve taken time to share your career and business experience.”

That’s why I love the Bob Procter quote. It’s truly a thrill to recognize someone will thrive at an undertaking even with limited experience and confidence, and then watching them flourish.

Now I’ve won awards for my work and led a fruitful career. I’ve supervised numerous people, including employees with my own communications business. I certainly know I’ve made a difference to several people’s futures if by no other measure than the number of references I’ve provided. I know, of course, it has gone way beyond that and for someone to outright tell me how I’ve helped them is touching.

Although I’m not about to slow down, this feedback has happened enough lately from younger co-workers and associates that I feel at the pinnacle of my career.

Having colleagues recognize my role in shaping their careers is acknowledgement that I’ve invested time and energy as they find their way in the world. I think of it as my own way of giving back to a life that’s been rewarding to me.

What I have learned and pass on to others becomes the foresight of those with less experience. The true joy comes when mentees challenge and question what I have said and offer their own ideas. Even more thrilling are the times when I know I am learning from my younger colleagues.

A mentorship doesn’t have to involve someone in the same community or even direct involvement in their day-today work. I met Mary Leong, a student at UBC, three years ago while she was working in Grande Prairie. She’d been assigned to visit me to at City Hall to discuss a partnership with the agency employing her during the summer.

We’ve kept in touch over the last couple of years and I always enjoy hearing Mary’s latest news. She’s one of those people who you know will go as far as their ambition takes them. I look forward to saying, “I knew Mary Leong when …”

She wanted to contribute to what I had to say on this topic since she felt I’d influenced her career direction.

“To me, David is a long-distance mentor who checks in every once in a while to deliver news and information on the new initiatives he’s working on, but also to provide encouragement and support in a sometimes very rocky field.”
She recalls travelling to Grande Prairie to pursue a career path which she soon realized was ill-suited to her personality and interests. At the same time, she was discovering an interest in new media and communications.

“Our initial conversation was brief, but the topic of communications in a changing media landscape was brought up. I was surprised when David followed up with information about how the city was using new media and technology to connect with its citizens, which I found fascinating. That, for me, was the turning point as I realized that someone was taking an interest in my career development and providing information that could support my journey.

“These discussions provided a holistic view of the day-to-day tasks in a communications job, and spurred me to seek out opportunities to grow in the field.”

Mary is completing her Political Science and Psychology degree at UBC, and will be working for a year before starting the Politics and Communication Master’s program at the London School of Economics in September 2014.

Her goal is to work in the field of media and communications for a non-profit she’s passionate about to help enact policy change.

Mary’s own passion is to be a mentor to young minority girls to ensure they have the tools to succeed at whatever they set out to do, whether as a CEO, a politician or an entrepreneur.

Knowing Mary, those young ladies will be fortunate to have that leadership.

I thought this quote would be a most appropriate way to end this post:
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter. Going to bed knowing we have done something wonderful is what matters to me.” ~ Steve Jobs

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