Do you remember the feeling you had when you were younger and was so excited for your parent or older sibling or supportive adult to return home to show them the painting you did or the A+ you got on your ABC order test? You were not looking for an award, but rather wanted to be the source of pride and happiness for that person.
As we get older, we cross paths with a variety of adults that want to see us succeed. They might give the dollar amount of your age for your birthday every year, treat you to your favorite food or activity to celebrate your accomplishment, or just take the time to talk with you and make sure your priorities are guided and set.
As old as I am, the MVP (most valuable players) of my support team are my parents. They are the only ones who cheer me on even when they cannot see clearly where I’m headed. They set the bar for me to aspire higher and push further. For now they are the only ones who understand the source of my passion, struggles, and determination for my work and life.
On the other hand, I have met adults whose perception of me changed as I got older. When I was younger, they viewed me as a cute girl who would go far. As a young adult, they view me as a threat. I know this sounds harsh, but this is the impression I get. I am the kind of person who remembers the slightest gesture of kindness. So, naturally, I make a point to keep in touch and assume sharing my journey thus far would be appreciated. Instead I get responses like, “Really? What are you planning to do with all those degrees? Fill a thermostat?” or “Gosh! How long is it going to take you to stick to one thing?” or “That’s nice, but why waste your time?”
As much as I try to continue holding my head high and strive to achieve my dreams, these kind of responses have taken a toll on my psyche. I stopped sharing. I doubted my vision. I questioned my purpose. Pay attention to what you tell people, especially if they trusted you with a glimpse into their dreams. It is amazing how much a flippant comment impacts a person.
I am still working on finding my tribe. People who understand, recognize, and appreciate everything about me. People I feel inspired by and in turn support. People who will make the extra effort because they want to see me succeed. People who believe in me.
To help you build your tribe, I wanted to give you some tips on finding and being a mentor (or responsibility-partner if the former title gives you nightmares).
1. Be generous
In spite of negativity and challenges, always give more than you receive. That does not mean putting others before you or accept abuse. I mean give it your all – that project your secretly tinkering with, that group you know you can contribute to, that job you know you can be a boss at – do not suppress your talents just because others question them. Make a habit of giving everything to what you want to achieve. Be open to listening to others without needing to reply.
2. Let go of entitlement
No one has to help you. It would be nice, but it is not a requirement. You don’t have to be successful. It is what we all strive for, but it is not an obligation. If you dedicate your focus more to strategically building and supporting, less time will be wasted dwelling on rejection. Regardless of which side of the mentor-team you are on, always be grateful for those who stick around and respect those who reach out to you.
3. Take charge
Don’t wait for permission to thrive. Don’t seek approval for your brilliance. Take initiative for your story. Focus on polishing your craft and creating your own opportunities. The people who are able to enhance your vision and your life will come to you at the right time.
I hope these tips were helpful. Do you have a mentor or are you mentoring someone? What do you appreciate most by the people who support your endeavors?