I start this week with a sincere thank you to John Adams the Daddy Blogger, who appeared as our guest blogger for last Tuesday’s Focal Point.
Last week I received news that a friend, colleague and mentor of mine named Paula, had died of cancer. She is a woman who fought a battle with cancer for the last three years, almost to the date. It was a difficult journey, but every time I saw her I was reminded about how much she has meant to me in my life and career.
This loss has caused me to ponder the importance of having significant people and mentors. Paula was a colleague, as we co-led a $110M national multi-site project across Canada, from 2009 through 2013. We faced a lot of challenges together and the highly successful project is now being replicated in many places across Canada and around the world.
In addition to being a colleague, Paula was a mentor. She was many years my senior, and although technically she was accountable to me for her deliverables, I considered her a person who could run circles around me. I have learned many times over that one way to ensure success is to surround myself with people who are far smarter and can do things far better than I can. This was indeed the case with Paula. In that way, she was a mentor. I watched her carefully, and when I was faced with the most difficult of challenges and issues, she was always there to assist. There may only be 2 or 3 others from my entire career that I could consider to be mentors in the same category as Paula was.
We all need mentors, and the loss of Paula has caused me to realize that at the moment I am short on mentors. This means I need to get intentional again. I have a coach (or two), but neither of them happen to also be mentors at the moment, notwithstanding that a coach can also be a mentor.
Learning takes place in a lot of forms, but I truly believe that one absolutely critical part of learning requires having access to mentors to assist us in our growth and development. Paula, you were a critical part of my learning and development both personally and professionally, and I will miss you greatly.
Cameron’s Call to Action
- Have you got at least one active mentor right now? If not, where can you benefit from development? From that, become intentional about seeking out a mentor that you can establish and formalize a relationship with.
- Who have your mentors been? Make a list of who your top three mentors have been and what you have learned most from them. Then, make a personal connection with them to thank them and to remind them about the significant contributions they have made towards your success.
- Are you mentoring? A cup can only get filled up if you pour something out from it from time to time. You need to be mentoring. Mentoring is not the same as supervising, but rather is modeling and walking with someone through various issues and challenges. Be sure to make yourself available, and be intentional about investing in someone through mentoring. You will be better for it.