When I was 19, I thought I might want to be a counselor. I learned that I’d have to go to Graduate School to get the requisite training and certifications needed. I didn’t have the money, I didn’t have the desire, and frankly, I didn’t have the confidence.
It was suggested that I talk to a professor at one of the graduate programs I was investigating so I made the call and was invited to her home. I walked into a place where pictures were hung on every available wall space, the coffee was served on china, and I sat on a leopard print sofa. So began a relationship that lasted 37 years.
Mentor, professor, and ultimately dear friend, Jayne provided the push I needed, the support I wanted and wisdom to reflect on. Unlike anyone I had ever met before (or since) she was intelligent, generous, flamboyant, and possessed an appetite for life that I found captivating There were always things to talk about, songs to sing, topics to discuss , adventures to be had, problems to solve, opinions to articulate, laughter to share, and observations to contemplate.
Even with distance, activity, and obligations, a season never passed without connecting. When she died last week, I found myself thinking that there were still things I wanted to talk with her about. Our relationship will continue – albeit a bit one-sided.
I’ve had other mentors in my life: bosses who showed me the ropes within organizations and taught me the things about my profession that are not written in any article or book. Some of the people who helped shape me didn’t stay in my life all that long.
What I know about the mentoring relationship is that if you are lucky, you get one or two that can significantly shape you. Professionally and personally, you are able to grow, learn, and develop much more and much faster than you ever could have on your own.
When you get an opportunity – pass it on.