I have been so blessed to have learned from some of the most bright, passionate, and articulate mentors throughout my life. From high school to college, from first careers to world-renowned thought leaders that I have traveled the country to learn from, each imparted knowledge, ideas and thoughts that have lasted over the decades of my life. However, it all began much earlier than that for me. I was so fortunate to have one of those brilliant mentors be someone who stood alongside me for the first 21 years of my life…my grandfather, or Opi, as I called him.
My grandfather and I were so much alike in our love of philosophy and great quotes, thinking of how to improve humanity and leave an indelible mark on the world. He was a man who fought for change and who always taught us to learn from the mistakes of mankind so that we could become compassionate leaders in our own lives and in the world.
While I sometimes wonder what he would think of the work we do today at U & Improved, and how excited he would be, what I think about even more are some of the bits of wisdom he imparted to me, through his own unique style…repetition of deep, meaningful quotes, ad nauseam, that I simply was too young to understand!
One quote that has stuck with me all of these years was one he repeated almost daily. “Jodi?”, he would say, ”always remember, a black or a white horse is not a horse. A horse is a horse.” Now at 12 years old, I don’t think I quite “got” what he was looking to tell me. However, because he would repeat these words over and over, they have remained with me all of these years, and I truly believe they, along with the countless other quotes of brilliance he shared, are part of what drives me and leads me to do the work I do today.
He was so very right. A horse is a horse. Just as a human being is a human being. Simple, and yet, profound. Equality is a cornerstone of my belief system and values set…undoubtedly a lasting gift from the wise words of this mentor I was gifted with during the earliest and most formative years of my life.
So I ask you to take some time this month to really think about those mentors in your life. Who made that lasting impression for you? What did they share, what did you hear…and what, most importantly, have you internalized and applied to your own life? Take some time to reflect on these lessons, and allow them to remind you of all that you have learned from decades, and perhaps generations, of wisdom that came before you.