Find a mentor.
We have all heard this advice, this call, to find someone who will guide our success and drive us forward. Someone who will share their experience and knowledge with us, who will invest in our personal success. There are whole courses you can take, shelves of books to read, on how to find and foster the mentoring relationship. I have known many who stress about who these people are, where to find the best ones and how to identify the traits they need.
In my life I have had many mentors. Some in the arts, others in the military, academia and business. All of them invested in me personally but, oddly enough, none of whom I sought out. Actually the greatest mentors I have had have been delivered to me by God, people who have entered my life, invested in me personally and had a massive impact on who I would become, on how I would see my reflection in others, in the type of man I would ultimately choose to be.
find what you ae pretty good at and enjoy doing enough, don't destroy your love by making it a job
Michael Green is one of those mentors.
I first met Michael when he was recruiting me for a job in financial services. A mutual friend had introduced us, knowing that I was looking for a new opportunity in my life and that I had certain traits Michael was looking for. The interview process went well, I ended up with the job, and I began working with Michael, with him also being my trainer. There was not a great age difference, only a few years separate us, but there was a difference in our experiences and our life paths. Over the time we worked together, our conversations covered a lot of time and many miles. As we so often do with people in our places of employment, Michael and I soon found ourselves friends, a friendship that would persevere after he left our employer and later when I transitioned into a new chapter of my life.
Walking in to meet my friend for breakfast felt as familiar as the walk through a family home, as though things had never truly changed, merely paused for a moment and then resumed their normal course. Michael's smile is warm and welcoming, the smile of a friend, not false, but rather a physical embodiment of the integrity of the man behind it. His tone is always measured, always calm in the time I have known him. Michael is a man of measures, one who takes the stock of a situation and responds rather than fire away in an emotional mess. It is something I have always greatly valued in my friend, the calm of his internal sea and the council he has always provided me as I raged like a storm.
Michael Green is the kind of man who wants to leave people, places and things in a better condition than how he found them. He is the type of person who makes improvements to a home, who takes the time to train and teach new people, who invests in those he believes in. He does not do this for rewards or gifts, honestly not even for praise. Michael Green seeks growth because it is in his heart, it is his purpose. In my time working with him, hours of time were spent trying to make me better, to answer questions, to aid me in finding purpose. When I was afraid of how I would be at networking (yes, there was a time), Michael was the one who broke it down for me, who believed in me but also showed me how it was possible.
In truth, my successes in that field all owe themselves in some way to Michael Green.
My friend is a person who values voices and ideas. We sip our coffee and lament a world where it seems to be more difficult to politely disagree by the day, a world where discussion seems to be dying. Even on that front we disagree a bit, but we laugh and enjoy our meal. Michael has learned something that few people ever truly realize. It is the relationships in our lives that make us truly wealthy, not the number of times we can mark ourselves as "right."
We talk about faith, about my beliefs and my recent return to my faith and my walk with God. As we talk we could easily find places where we disagree, but they are not more important than our time together as friends, and we both understand that we do not know God's mind. We talk of family and of our paths, where we both have been and where we want to go. We talk about Darcy and Mady, his wife and daughter, about their holidays and how things are going. I tell him more about Mary Ann and how our relationship is growing. We smile and laugh a lot.
I talk about chasing what you love. Michael cautions me not to turn what I love into a job. Make no mistake, this isn't an argument not to be passionate about something, but rather not to rob the joy from it by making it your means of supporting yourself. Better to find something you enjoy that makes money and to preserve the integrity of your passion. This is the opinion of my friend. We don't agree on it, and yet within this is great wisdom. We shouldn't let our loves become solely a paycheck, shouldn't let them die. Michael Green is very wise.
As we walk after breakfast, on a cold and dreary day in Mount Pleasant, I flash back over the times I have shared with my friend. I remember long talks in his office, on phone calls and in restaurants on the road. Celebrations of successes run through my mind, brief moments to appreciate my work but also spur me on to greater success. I think back to Thanksgiving one year ago, when I had nowhere to go at first, and how people from my work opened their homes to me on the day that may be the hardest for me in any given year.
I remember coffee and pastries in Michael Green's house, sitting with his family, invited in to be a part of their festivities, to be a Green for a moment on a day when that mattered so much more than he can ever know.
As I write this I can honestly say that I don't believe my friend knows the impact he has had on me. He is probably reading this and shaking his head, humbly accepting praise and wondering if he really had that impact. To him those were talks and lessons shared to help me, moments shared with a friend. To me that was an investment in me as a person, a lifeline relationship, and a series of life's moments shaping the man I chose to become. And yet, there is one truth above all of these...
Without Michael Green, without his belief in me and the lessons I learned from him, there is no 100 Connections. I am not who I have become, possibly not even here.
My friend is a great mentor and an even better man.
Favorite Dinosaur: Stegosaurus
Why: I just like him.