Yesterday, I received my annual Christmas card from Mrs. Lechman, my 9th grade chemistry teacher. For the past 21 years, we’ve been exchanging holiday cards to share what we’ve been up to, where we’ve traveled, and how our families are doing.
It’s been rewarding in so many ways.
Somewhat surprisingly, I’ve met a handful of other people over the years who also exchange letters and cards periodically with a teacher or mentor from their youth. Evidently, these early connections really do have a dramatic impact on who we become as adults.
Perhaps your mentor was a neighbor who taught you how to garden, or a teacher who saw potential in you that no one else saw. Or maybe it’s simply someone who cared about you and listened to your struggles without judgement.
Mentors help shape us, guiding us as we become who we were meant to be.
Think about it: how many of us label those who have discouraged us, criticized us, or made us feel dumb as a mentor? I don’t know anyone. Sure, many mentors challenge us, especially if they know we aren’t putting our best forward, but that’s a very different thing altogether.
Mentors hold a special place in our hearts, a place filled with gratitude and kindness. They give of themselves because they want to, not because they have to. (The difference is obvious.)
Who are your mentors? (Have you thanked them lately for the value they’ve brought into your life?) And who are you currently mentoring? Do you know a young person who could you some guidance and encouragement?