I have a mentor in my life that I very much look up to. She was my first manager after college, and even though we only worked together for a short time, we have remained in contact. It can be hard to describe what makes certain people just click, but with her, its her ease. She is so approachable and you know that she has your (well, my) best interest in mind. I can say or ask anything, and that’s always okay.
She is also extremely driven. I see a lot of me in her, in that even though she has a very successful career, she still pursues interests academically. She is working on getting her Ph.D while working full time, raising two children, and being involved in local organizations. I think she also has really good taste in cars.
Anyway, this mentorship relationship works because while I am so impressed with who she is, she see’s so much in me. This evening, she and I were wrapping up a board meeting and she nearly got teary eyed talking about how excited she is for my future. When I sometimes forget it myself, it is really nice and reassuring to know that other people believe in me too.
One lesson that really sticks out from her though, is that her philosophy is “come as you are.” Whether you are working on her team or with her on a board, she doesn’t want to shape anyone into being something they are not. When she first tapped me to be on this nonprofit advisory board I was all like “umm… okay… but, I don’t know anything about nonprofit boards and I don’t know anyone who can give a lot of money and I’m not really sure what I will bring to the table…” but she didn’t care. She knew that I had a lot to offer and even though it wasn’t in the form of money or to people with money, it was valuable to the organization.
Further, I get a sense that it is okay to be me. I came into this board not knowing what I would do, and even though it has taken a few months, I’m finally beginning to see my role. I love networking and meeting with people and collaborating any way possible. So, yes, I have a lot of random connections throughout the cities and yes, I will leverage them to help everyone out. And yes, I will just come as I am.