Mentor or Model – Do You Have Both?

I recently wrote about heritage, and that values are what make for strong heritage, not methods of how we do things. This morning, over the the maine hr cafe, I read this brief reflection about the recent Maine Human Resources Convention. The governor gave a keynote in which he highlighted the strengths of some historic women – Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith, and Margaret Thatcher. They had values that came through in their efforts. But latching on to that heritage is no easy task.

It got me thinking about how many great leaders we can read about, and how much we have drawn from history in many ways to get to where we are today. And when someone reminds us of great people and what they accomplished, it is frequently done in an attempt to motivate us, but to also put forth those people as models. Models for how they lived, how they acted, or how they drive a great result in their field.

We have plenty of models. We need more mentors. We need to be brave enough to ask people to help us, even though we don’t want to appear like we need help.

Who are your mentors? These are people you need, and you need them now. These are the people who know what models you have chosen, and can help you see that you ain’t there yet. They can help you see what you might do for next steps. They can keep you honest, and keep you moving toward your goals.

Sometimes mentors are real bright people who have already had the great experience you are trying to build for yourself. Sometimes they are that most honest friend or spouse who knows what you want, and can help you see how to get there even if they have not walked the path.

I’ve always kept this quote bookmarked. It’s from Richard Bach, known by many as the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. This is from one of his later books.

We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime, and the tools to shape it into sculpture. We can drag it behind us untouched, we can pound it to gravel, we can shape it into glory. Examples from every other life are left for us to see, lifeworks finished and unfinished, guiding and warning.

The models show us examples we can strive to emulate, to sculpt in a similar fashion. But the mentor can help us to sculpt. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s everywhere.


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