I have a dear cousin who is always brimming with ideas and makes life so much fun. Some of the brightest of my childhood memories are of the imaginative games we played together for hours or days on end. (On one family trip, we braided feathers into our hair every day and took on the invented personas of Indian girls with long lists of the names of our horses and even longer lists of our devoted suitors!) I only realized recently that the reason I’ve always enjoyed being around her so much is that she brings out the lighthearted, playful side out of me. I love who I am when I’m with her. When I asked her what energy type she thought I was, she pegged me as being the same as her. After all, she only knows me in the context of herself. I was completely surprised, as this type of energy is the least natural for me. I have to try really hard to be bouncy and fun. But she brings it out effortlessly whenever I’m in her presence.
We tend to calibrate to a similar energetic level of those we spend the most time with. We take on their moods, attitudes, and interests. If they are complacent, we tend to become so. If they are motivated to accomplish things, it spurs us to find our own motivation. If they are fun-loving and carefree, we become more that way. If they are negative and destructive, that can rub off on us very easily, too, unfortunately. This is why it’s so important to be aware of the kind of people we routinely surround ourselves with.
I absolutely love the following quote by Edmund Lee:
Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.
How many of us weren’t aware of something great in ourselves until someone else pointed it out or helped us to see it? Tragically, far too many people remain unaware of the greatness within themselves. Some even deny it completely. But I know that the spark of greatness lies within every single person ever born.
What I love about mentoring is when I can see something in someone that may not be apparent to that person, or even those in the closest relationships with that person. It’s so exciting when I get to glimpse this! Even those who are aware of their gifts and talents sometimes find it tempting to give up on their dreams or slack off when the going gets tough, but the job (and privilege) of a mentor keep holding on to that vision for them through their weak times. An anonymous observer once noted, “No man can fail, if some one person sees him successful.” Do you have a person, or people, in your life who hold on to this kind of faith in you and your dreams?
The story of how I first got started with mentoring involved someone seeing something in me that I had no idea was there. Furthermore, this person was a complete stranger that I’ve never exchanged a word with before or since.
Almost two years ago I attended a free promotional training with 3 Key Elements called the Body Language Show. At the end of the evening, the company gifted audience members with free registrations to other courses of training that they offer. The 3-day Art of Mentoring course caught my attention as being one that might be useful to me as a parent, so I raised my hand as the giveaway began. I thought, why not, if it’s free? I was on the very back row, and other people were standing on their feet waving their hands enthusiastically, hoping to be the recipient of the training. I eventually put my hand down, thinking there was no way I would be chosen when these people clearly wanted it much more than I did.
I’ll never forget what happened next. The young man tasked with choosing the recipient kept walking toward me at the back of the room, looking me right in the eye, ignoring all the other people on their feet with their hands in the air. I remember that his eyes were blue and he was very young, maybe a teenager. I think he might have been one of the sons of Kirk Duncan, the presenter. He came all the way to my row and dropped the registration packet into my lap. I sat there, grinning, in disbelief. I hadn’t even put out my hand to take it from him. I knew that this was not random. I had been chosen, deliberately, for a reason I hadn’t known at the time. This one moment started me on a journey of learning and self-discovery.
It comes powerfully and certainly at unexpected times, that moment when your life mission becomes instantly clear. I know it doesn’t happen this way for everyone. For many, it’s a gradual realization, but for me, it needed to be this unmistakeable and powerful, because otherwise I would have talked myself out of it long ago. I just had never thought of myself as “that kind of person.” But now I know that anyone can be a teacher and a leader, a listener and an example. We’ve all had unique experiences, we’ve all had insights, that others can benefit from. The only qualification is to truly love people and desire to serve them.
I’m so grateful to that young man who could tell just by looking at me what I had to give. His choice changed the course of my life, and I’ve never been the same person since. His example reminds me that any of us, if we are in tune spiritually, can see the greatness and potential in any other person. So look for and cultivate that in others. Remember to surround yourself with people who see that greatness in you, who lift you up, inspire you, and safeguard your dreams. Surround yourself with people who believe, think, and do.
And if people like that have chosen to associate with you, you know what that means. You are that kind of person, too. You add immeasurable value to other people’s lives, just by being you!