Lessons Learned from a Mentor

Today is a special remembrance day for me.  It has been 12 years since my mentor, Faith Miller Cole, passed away.  There are so many ways she helped me develop early on in my young professional career.  I was Faith’s administrative assistant back in the day.  Undecided in a career path after having spent a year in college, I chose to take some time to do other things.  That other thing was getting a certificate as a word processing specialist (yes that was a thing way back then!).

I was fortunate to land a job at the corporate headquarters of Kentucky Utilities (KU).  In my administrative role, I worked in the Communications Department with some incredibly talented people where I learned about advertising, marketing, press releases, branding, and how to effectively formulate messages to our board, employees and customers.

My mentor, Faith, came on as Director of Communications after I had been with the company only a little after a year.  And boy, did she shake things up!  She was like a whirlwind.  She made immediate changes in what had been to me a very “safe and comfortable” environment.

At first, my colleagues and I were skeptical of the whole process.  Who WAS this person and why did she insist on making ALL of these changes so quickly?   To be honest, I initially felt the sentiment of “why can’t we just go back to the way it has always been?”

Faith had a bigger and better vision.  Not only for the company – she had that vision for each individual that she supervised.  Being close to the lines as her administrative assistant, I saw how she showed assertiveness with the senior leadership.  She was “leaning in” well before Sheryl Sandberg made the concept popular.

She challenged me and she challenged our whole team.  And what was so inspiring about the whole process – she did it in a way so that we as individuals wanted to improve ourselves.  She took time to listen to our concerns, she took time to hear our ideas, and she took time to believe in who we were and the strengths we offered.

Faith and I became very close during her time at KU.  We especially became closer as her health declined from complications of Crohn’s disease.  She was one tough cookie – we all saw her work through the pain as she was in and out of the hospital.  Faith and I had deep and meaningful discussions about life, about strength and about “faith” in general.  We came from different faiths, her being Jewish and I being a Christian, and we both learned an incredible amount from each other.

One thing she showed me which I will always carry with me was her acceptance and belief in me.  Even when I screwed up, she said, “It will all be okay.  You are stronger than you know.”

I remember when I was told of her passing.  I was only a few months into my job at another local corporate powerhouse.  I literally fell to my knees crying.  I could not believe she was gone and I was upset with myself for not having visited her more.  Then I heard her whisper to me, “It will all be okay.  You are stronger than you know.”

Faith visits me from time to time in my dreams giving me words of encouragement, especially during the times when I want it the most.  A mentor is such a wonderful person to have in your life and I hope those of you who read this are thinking of someone who has been that person for you.  If so and they are still around, call them up and say, “Thank you.”  And if you currently aren’t mentoring someone, think of someone you can mentor and be a voice of wisdom and encouragement for them.

 

A Tree Tells a Story

We each may have our holiday traditions this time of year and our family is no exception. Growing up, it was so exciting to get out the Christmas decorations and transform our home into a festive site with colors of reds and greens prominently displayed. Santa Clause, reindeer, candy canes, mistletoe, Christmas wreaths and candles which smelled of fresh cut pine. Christmas music was in the air as I delightfully danced and sang to Andy Williams’ Christmas Album playing on our old 38 record player. It was “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, indeed.

While the old 38 record player is gone and CD’s, iTunes and mp3’s have taken its place, I still delightfully dance and sing to Andy Williams’ Christmas Album each year. It will forever be my favorite Christmas music and each time I listen to it, I am again transported to a special place in time – picturing myself as a little girl and feeling the excitement of Christmas.

Another special tradition each year was putting up the Christmas tree. Our trees have changed throughout the years, as well. Early on we had live trees and soon realized what a pain the mess was to clean up! For most of the years, we had an artificial tree which seemed to expand in size each time we bought a new one. My dad worked tirelessly to untangle the lights and shape the tree to perfection. Each year he would say, “I’m not doing this again next year!” And of course, next year rolled around and he engaged in the process all over again.

No longer do we have the sparkly garland surrounding the tree and the different color lights have been replaced by white lights to fit the “traditional” look these days. What never went away since I was a baby girl, however, were the ornaments that filled the tree.

Our Christmas Tree told a story. Each ornament brought back a special memory, whether it was a place my mom and I visited, a childhood friend, my time in Brownie’s and Girl Scouts, church friends in Paducah, hobbies our family has had throughout the years, and special, special remembrances of my Grandmother and Granddad who have since passed. We have collected these ornaments, these stories, each year – some of them nearly 50 years old. They are true and simple treasures.

It is the simplicity of them all that touch my heart. A simple gift of love – an ornament – that can flood you with enduring memories.

We will not have that particular tree up this year as my family is coming to our place for Christmas. While I will miss that tree and the stories those ornaments tell, we will have a smaller tree with ornaments we have collected the past eight years. They also have their own stories and we are continuing the tradition.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the commercialism and stressful moments of the Season that we forget to take time and appreciate the simple gifts around us. What simple tradition do you treasure? Let it fill your heart with gratitude and joy and experience the wonder of Christmas.

Coach John Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: #7: Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day

Gratitude.  We hear that word a lot.  Be thankful for your blessings.  Be grateful for what you have.  When you are suffering a loss, sometimes that is hard to do.  When you are going through life-changing challenges, you may think, “What in the world do I have to be grateful for?”  It can be tough.  The struggle is very real.

In life, we face many challenges.  Sometimes those challenges can bring us down.  Sometimes they are a motivation to elevate us higher.  The choice is yours.  Do you choose to let the obstacles you face bring you down?  Or do you choose to let them be a motivator so that you prove to yourself and to others what you are worth?

I read a story today in our local newspaper today about a young girl who died of cancer at the age of four.  She came from a loving family, being cherished by her two brothers and her mom and dad.  The article talked about how grateful they were of people who showed their love and kindness throughout this young child’s struggles and how that would stay with them the rest of their lives.  “The constant support never wavered”, they said.  It helped the family to know that the support was there.  They were grateful for that.

Yes, there are many challenges we face in life.  Along with challenges, we have blessings.  If we continue to focus on the negative, that is what we get in life – the negative.  If we look for opportunities in the challenges, we will find ways to grow.

Gratitude.  Sometimes we forget to think about our blessings.  If we spend five minutes each day truly thinking about what we are thankful for in life, how much more may our life be enriched?

Gratitude.  Think of ways you can enrich other people’s lives and how much that act of kindness may mean to them.  If we spend five minutes each day showing others a kindness, how much more may their lives be enriched?

What do you want to do today to make that happen?

 

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Coach John Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: #4: Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible

As a young child, I was not a reader of books. I wanted to play outside – ride my bike, climb trees, play sports, sneak off in the middle of the night with my best neighborhood friend and meet up at the tennis courts. The nature lover in me has continued.

When I got older, both my granddad and my mom influenced me on the importance of being informed and increasing my vocabulary. And one of the ways of being informed was reading. Reader’s Digest was a staple in our household and Word Power was a must! In addition to that, I was encouraged to read newspapers, journals, history books, whatever written material I could get my hands on. Reading soon became my passion. I wanted to learn and grow. I wanted to understand the world, the different cultures, the history behind what I learned. I wanted to absolutely drink that knowledge in and be informed.

I also became a scholar of the Bible, having read its entirety in different versions four times. I also studied other spiritual philosophies. Being deeply committed to learning principles to better myself as an individual, I studied Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist philosophies. The more I read, the more I realized what I didn’t know, which just encouraged me to read even more!

As an entrepreneur and coach, professional development reading has become my passion. There are so many ways to learn from the rich experiences from other professionals.

Below are four points to apply from reading:
1. Broaden your mind. If you are prone to sticking with one type of material, consider broadening your reading material. How can you expand your learning by reading something you have not been exposed to – whether it is history, religion, a different culture, a different genre entirely?

2. Tap into your creativity. When you read and are broadening your mind, you have this amazing opportunity to tap into your creativity. Perhaps you get a new thought or an idea from reading. When you do so, write it down and then apply an action step to make that new thought or idea come into reality!

3. Learn from others in your professional industry. See what they have written. What golden nuggets can you pull out? There is a wealth of knowledge out there – and people are gracious enough to share their knowledge so that you can learn and grow. Take advantage of that opportunity.

4. Listen. As you broaden your mind and learn from others, you also learn to listen. Use your knowledge so that you are able to relate to others and listen effectively. When you listen, you will build rapport by being fully present to who they are. In doing so, you can develop rich relationships with others.

 

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Coach John Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: #3: Help others

Coach Wooden’s third point in his 7-point creed is to help others. When you think about helping others, what comes to mind? As a coach, one of my passions is to help others grow and accomplish goals in areas of their life that are important for them. I love to see people shine as they are being true to themselves and in their own element — where they are living in a space they feel confident and purposeful with what they are doing.

There are many people in our world today that are facing challenges in their lives. It’s been shown that a simple act of kindness goes a long way. These acts of kindness can take little effort on our part. A smile. A thank you. An encouragement. A conversation with presence. A simple question – “how can I help you?”. How do you show your kindness?

When you think about it, being a service to others is also a way for us to grow. There have been many studies that suggest that one way you can pull yourself up from the doldrums is by helping someone else out. There is joy that comes from helping others. You are connecting with someone on a very human and individual level.

A short article outlines 7 benefits of helping others: http://mentalfloss.com/…/7-scientific-benefits-helping-othe…

1. Helps us live longer
2. Is contagious
3. Makes us happy
4. Helps with chronic pain
5. Lowers blood pressure
6. Promotes positive behaviors
7. Gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction

So how do you want to help others? What purposeful action can you put in place today to show others you care?

If you want help achieving your own career or life goals, I am happy to help you! Schedule a free strategy session with me today!

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Coach John Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: #2 – Make each day your masterpiece

I am fortunate to live in a very beautiful area in Virginia – my deck looks out on an environmentally protected area with lots of tall trees and a wooded forest.  If I am lucky, occasionally I will see a deer or two walking through the woods.  In the fall, it is especially awe-striking with the reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves creating a picture perfect site.  I give thanks for these images as I breathe it all in.

Each weekend, I take an early morning walk with my dog to another area of our neighborhood where the golf course is located.  Today’s walk was especially stunning as there was white frost on the ground, a mist on the pond with a flock of geese gleefully playing on the water, and the sunrise appearing slowly through the towering trees.  It was gorgeous!  It was truly a masterpiece!  I was very glad I had my phone to capture the beauty of the quiet, still morning and felt exceptionally blessed to be a part of it.

Mornings are my favorite time of the day (after I’ve had my coffee, of course!) because there is a new energy, a feeling of having a fresh start, and a time to reflect on what I want my day to look like.  We have this amazing opportunity to create our own masterpiece – each and every day. It’s a wonderful thought, really.  Whatever has happened the day before, we can take learning lessons from that and grow each day.

Some strategies for building your own masterpiece may include journaling the night before what lessons you learned, what you feel positive about that occurred, and what you want to accomplish the next day.  Or perhaps reflecting first thing in the morning what steps you want to take to make it a great day for yourself.  Where do you want to focus your time?  What is important to get done?  How will you stay focused?  If things get off-track, how will you refocus?  Or in the morning, visualizing asking yourself at the end of the day, “This was a great day because I did x, x, x”, then DO IT!

What do you want your masterpiece to look like?  How will you create it for yourself?  If you want strategies for how to build your masterpiece in your life or career, book a free strategy call with me today!

Have a masterpiece of a day!

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John Wooden’s 7-Point Creed – #1

Recently I listened to a podcast interview that Tony Robbins did with legendary coach John Wooden many years back.  I knew a little about Coach Wooden from his coaching days at UCLA.  Having a passion for college basketball (being from the home of the UK Wildcats – Go Big Blue), I knew that Coach Wooden had won more NCAA National Championships than any other coach – ten in total and seven of those were consecutive championships.  Mike Krzyzewski of Duke has won five followed by Adolph Rupp of UK who won four.  As I write this, I do so with a little gag in my mouth – and for those of you who know the UK vs. Duke rivalry (think Christian Laettner) will understand.  But I digress.

What I didn’t know about Coach Wooden was how passionate he was about his integrity and being a mentor to those who played for him.  He was well-respected in many circles, being named the national coach of the year six times, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom and having the John R. Wooden Award named after him for the basketball player of the year.

He died at the ripe old age of 99 in 2010.  And while some may have disagreed with his tactics and strategies, he did prove to be a winning coach and he left behind a 7-Point Creed that he lived by.  We will look at the first one today.

 #1.  Be True To Yourself

What does it mean to be true to yourself?  Ask YOURSELF that question.  I wrote about this earlier in a blog on being authentic.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in being what others want us to be that we forget who we are.  When that happens, we are no longer good for ourselves or for others.

Being true to yourself means really taking a look at who we are – knowing and accepting who we are.  Being honest about our beauties and flaws.  Yes, we all have tremendous beauty within us – and we want to acknowledge and celebrate that!  We also have flaws – we are all human!  And by the way – it is okay to admit that we do have flaws.

It also means examining what our values are in life.  What is important for you?  Where does your passion flow?  How will you follow that passion so that you do live it out gloriously?

Being true to yourself means you are not so concerned in pleasing others that you do not live your own life.

If you want to learn more about how to be true to yourself, I am happy to work with you!