Sunday, March 25, 2012


Image by Alan Saporta

As a parent I can't imagine anything more heartbreaking or excruciating than seeing your own child injured or suffering ill health (apart from, heaven forbid, the child passing away). Unfortunately at this time and for the past half year I know a couple, dear friends of mine, whose young child has been gripped with a rare, debilitating disease. While the long-term prognosis is actually good it has been and will continue to be a burdensome, tortuous road to recovery.

In the meantime I have been a near helpless witness to their tireless tending to their sick child. Sure we folks around them have been visiting, providing food, comfort and a patient ear. But all anyone ultimately wants is for this child to get better. If there's anything positive I can wrench from this dismal situation it's the following 2 things:

Perspective - Being human I have my daily wishes, complaints and aches. It's tempting for all of us to focus on what we lack whether it be money, time or something about our current place in the world. But seeing these friends and thinking of others with similar struggles quickly melts away any of these "problems". It immediately brings any issues I'm currently dealing with into perspective. As they say "when you (and your loved ones) have your health you have everything". This is a concept I aim to impart to my mentees. Even something as traumatic and disheartening as a job loss can be overcome when you have your health.

Inspiration - The sheer force of nature these friends have demonstrated in caring for their sick child is breathtaking. One might say this is not surprising given it's their child. It is nevertheless inspiring to me to see any human muster this kind of energy, focus and determination under extreme stress and fatigue. It is a living example for me of how much we are all actually capable of doing especially while in the midst of a difficult situation. Then can you imagine what we each could do when we are faced with far less challenging situations? Can you visualize the achievements that await us when we are well rested and not under such negative stress?

I've written what turned out to be a very popular post about reframing before on this blog. A key to successfully reframing problems is to change your perspective which then sparks and inspires several paths to a solution. When working with my mentees I give them a number of tools to pivot their perspective. By sharing this story I'm sharing with you a tool that I use to:

  1. push me forward when I'm tired
  2. remind myself that I can accomplish more than I think
  3. inspire me to discover the many paths towards a solution
  4. feel unbelievably grateful for my health and the health of my loved ones.

I'll end with one of my favorite quotes on perspective:

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”John Lubbock

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Your Greatness

image from:

Your greatness is not what you have. It's what you give.
- Anon.

I discovered this quote recently. It was printed on the label dangling from my tea bag and it struck me on many levels. The simple reading implies that charity is a higher value than acquisition. OK - that sounds good.

But what does "your greatness" mean? Is it your legacy? Your popularity? Your abilities? Your wealth? Your sphere of influence?

Does it mean different things to different people? I'm not really sure.

Many of us strive to be 'great'. You probably wouldn't be reading a blog about mentoring if you weren't looking to improve yourself or others. When most of us think about working towards being 'great' we tend to think of improving a skill or an area of knowledge. We seek to obtain a new skill or a achieve a higher level of a current skill. Or our goal may be to produce something that others would deem 'great' which would result in us getting nice compliments or perhaps a monetary reward. Rarely does one think of giving as a means to becoming 'great'. I certainly never thought of it that way until my encounter with that quote printed on my tea. I'd argue that it's counter intuitive to give - to part with something - to achieve greatness.

Then I thought that you can only give from what you have. You cannot give something, whether it's material (money) or ethereal (wisdom), without having some measure of it first. Perhaps 'giving' is the ultimate proof of 'having'. I like that idea.

Then my mind turns to mentoring and how perfectly the quote describes this activity. But it's even better because like the flame of a candle that can ignite another candle's wick without diminishing itself whatsoever so to is mentoring. With mentoring you can give and NOT part with anything and still achieve 'greatness'. The potential of greatness you as a Mentor ignite in another in no way diminishes your greatness. In fact it's the opposite. The more light you cause to spread by the giving of your time, your wisdom and your conversations the more greatness will be attributed to you and be recognized by others.

In the end if you, by giving your time as a Mentor, impact even one single life with one single conversation then you would have already achieved a greatness many others spend a lifetime seeking.