I am so grateful for the teachers in my life, the coaches who have found the right time for the right sage advice or guidance. Recently, I was in a three-day accreditation class being certified in a trio of tools to help leaders be more effective. These tools provide a view of leadership styles, self-awareness and organizational climate. Great stuff! It was an intensive three days but I had the opportunity to learn about me as well as better understand how I can be more effective as a coach.
During day one, one of the three instructors asked us to share whatever we could about a coach or mentor in our life. The first person I thought of was a woman who was my colleague for many years. She was a peer mentor for me and one amazing person. She always found what people did well instead of focusing on what went wrong. She would send notes or leave messages for many individuals to let them know how well they handled a situation or presented at a meeting. She used strength based leadership before it was cool. She also had a way of helping you think differently about a situation instead of pointing out what you were doing wrong. An uncanny way to never put you on the defensive and helped you to just get better; in your position or personally. She took an interest in me in both.
She was one of the first people ever in my career who was able to help me truly articulate what made me more effective in my role than many; what made me stand out. One afternoon, as she sat in my office, she began to rattle off my value and impact to her and the business that differentiated me. I was amazed! I didn’t see that, I didn’t see me that way! She saw what I couldn’t. She helped me create my “elevator speech.” the thirty second or so way to describe my value. I remember her saying to me, “you are able to think from the end customer or employee back and put yourself in their shoes to really help the business with how to communicate change or even change direction. She also helped me realize that very often, guests at our meetings didn’t realize that I was the human resources executive on the team because of how well I could speak to business issues and that this was in fact unique. She created the line I still use to describe myself, “I am a business executive who happens to have an expertise in human resources.”
I shared some of this with the class that day. I shared how she would think about whatever you might be going through and give you another perspective. Her advice was always actionable. The class was impressed with my commentary and I felt proud to share a little about her.
The morning of day two, I woke up to an email from her! She had been thinking about me and some of my struggles of late and shared her positive thoughts of me at 6AM! As the class began, I shared the fact that I had received the email from her. It was such an incredible illustration of what I had told them the day before. As if she knew I needed reinforcement, she woke up and shared thoughts about me and some of what I have shared through this blog.
This week I was in Florida on business and made plans to meet this incredible force in my life for breakfast. As she walked into the lobby I felt my spirits lift. She not only looked beautiful, her beaming smile was welcoming and reminded me why I love her so. As we sat at breakfast our conversation never waned and covered a myriad of topics! But in only her style, she came prepared with thoughts for me.
She reminded me that taking care of me was so important. She said to me, “you give so much to others. You need to give to you, take care of you. Be with people who will give to you.” Her second thought for me was “why are the mistakes of others on your shoulders?”
Boom! Like a smack in the head she helped me re-frame some of my relationship hangover. She gave me a different way to think. She held up the mirror in her beautiful way. All from the heart, focused on helping me.
She is happily retired and is still my coach, teacher, mentor and friend. I am blessed each day with her and hope I give to others what she continues to give to me. We all need a mentor for life….she is mine.