If I had to pick one particular item which has made me the person I am today among everything that has happened in my life – significant milestones, my education, the support of my friends and family – what has shaped me the most, and taken me where I am professionally, has been the mentorship the females I’ve encountered have provided me with. Growing up, I had always heard that to be successful you need to find a mentor. My response – how the heck do you find a mentor? For so long I had thought this was a formal process I had never known, until I realized I had already been through mentorship, and come out a much better person because of it.
In my first job coming out of university, I immediately learned that there are two types of bosses. There are those who expect you to watch and learn, then in a few years, apply for another job and maybe take on some of those responsibilities. Then there are the bosses who take you under your wing, give you opportunities, show you new ways of looking at things, and challenge you to always take on more. Fortunately, my first boss was the latter, and without my realizing it, she taught me what a woman should really be to other women – an unknowing mentor.
I’ve encountered different types of female mentors. There are the ones who will sit and engage in discussion – challenging one’s notions and assumptions when looking at a situation, and forcing you to see issues and debates from alternative viewpoints. There are the ones who will go out of their way to give you opportunities beyond your situation – letting you tackle responsibilities that are their own, with the intention of growing you into their position as they continue to move up in their career. Then there are others who set you up with the resources you need to grow on your own, whether it be providing you with training for the potential they see in you, or, another method. What happens when you encounter these types of people, without realizing it, is they instill these qualities in you as well.
It is with this realization that I see how mentorship truly can be a community changing concept. Not only do community leaders do all they do, but they grow and nurture the next generation of leaders. Seeing Brantford’s growth since my return has been inspiring, giving me hope for the city’s continued growth. What I challenge each person to do is look to yourself to discover what kind of person you each are. Are you inspiring people around you, challenging them to grow as well? Are you continuously learning from everyone you meet? Or perhaps, if you are one of the people who don’t encourage others’ growth, acknowledge that and make a change.
I strongly believe lifelong learning is the key to continued success and happiness. So regardless of where you currently fall, let’s all take it to the next level of helping those around us achieve their potential, and in doing so, continue to achieve our own potential.