Why Everyone Should Be A Mentor To Someone
After I was named one of Canada’s Top 10 Rock Star Mentors, a lot of people came up to me after presentations and asked how I could afford to take so much time to mentor others.
My answer was always: “How can I afford not to?”
I believe that the success of business flows not just north and south on a chart of sales and profits, but east and west from the person starting out to the person who has achieved success.
Keeping that pipeline full and active is the best way to generate new thoughts, build great contacts, and feel good about the work that you do, regardless of the nature of your profession.
I will share with you today the original story that prompted me to make mentorship a daily part of my business life.
I was studying Walt Whitman’s first self-published book Leaves of Grass in a high school literature class. I thought even then what courage he had to write and publish the book back in 1855 and how awful it must have been for this man of such a distinguished mind to have to hear and read the harsh criticism and even ridicule that his work received. How could anyone not appreciate him right from the start?
And then the most amazing thing happened.
The poet who is still so widely quoted today, Ralph Waldo Emerson, read Whitman’s book and instead of joining the critics, he wrote a wonderful letter to the young author. It was full of encouragement and praise.
It meant so much to Whitman because he was a huge fan of Emerson and wanted to achieve as Emerson was doing. And for trivia fans, the book Leaves of Grass was actually inspired by an essay Emerson had written a year earlier entitled The Poet.
Here are some of the things Emerson wrote to Whitman:
“I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of Leaves of Grass. …I give you joy of your free and brave thought. I have great joy in it. I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be. I find the courage of treatment which so delights us, and which large perception only can inspire….I greet you at the beginning of a great career….”
Can you even imagine how uplifted and inspired Whitman must have felt on receiving such a response? Sales of his book started to take off then and he settled into an amazing life of accomplishment.
I wondered when the story was told to me, what would have happened had Whitman not received the letter from Emerson? Would he have joined the leagues of creative artists the world over who, having tried and failed at something, turned around and tossed their talent aside and gone to join the ranks of the mundane, doing work he hated solely to survive?
Putting your words, your art, your invention, and yourself forward to the world takes a tremendous amount of courage. If the world rejects you, it is indescribably hard to get up again and go for a second or even third round before someone sees a bit of promise or even genius in you.
We all love the stories of the movie stars who were discovered sipping sodas at a fountain, but the story of life is more often the story of trying and trying and trying until finally, you have a modest success from which you can build.
Along the way, if even one person extends a hand to say “well done” or to tell you they believe in you, to counsel you a little perhaps, or validate your ideas, it means so much.
I had great mentors in my life, and I still do. They give me the courage to continue to grow and change and do creative work.
And that is why I reach out to others. It doesn’t mean you have to adopt people and invest weeks or even months into their lives. Sometimes just a letter, or today an email, a quick phone call, a pat on the back at a meeting, can make a huge difference in giving them the courage to continue with their dream.
We should be inspired by Emerson’s letter, and by similar acts of kindness and support. I believe the creative capital of every nation would be enhanced if we had more mentors and fewer critics.
Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion.
25 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
Check out Paula’s bestselling books on Amazon: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and her newest release“Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth”.
For speaking inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free 1-888-502-6317.