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Next time you tune into an awards show or watch a postgame interview with a star athlete, listen closely. Who do the award-winners or MVPs thank? The boss who gave them their first big break? Former coaches, teachers, spouses – their parents? The people in the spotlight are usually the first to acknowledge that they didn’t get there by themselves – they had some help along the way from their mentors.

This time of year, with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day on our minds, it’s worth pausing to think about the people who’ve helped shape who we are.

Who are your mentors? And what did they teach you?

Did you learn by example, from formal coaching — or did someone say something that just clicked for you? Maybe you didn’t even consciously realize you were being mentored at the time.

Take your mother, for example. How many times did she tell you to get to bed on time, do your homework, look both ways before crossing a street? It is likely she told you dozens of things over and over again until they became second nature – common sense that you no longer question. Now you’ve integrated those lessons into your life so fully that you don’t even give them that much thought.

And, if you hadn’t listened (at least to some of them), you might never have made it as far as you have.

That’s why mentors are so important.

So here are some thoughts for this week:

  1. If you won a big award and had to make a speech, who would you thank – and why? What, specifically, have your mentors given you? How are you a better person from their mentorship?
  2. Who else could you learn from now? While the words of your junior high track coach might still ring true, could you also benefit from the guidance of a new mentor today? What areas are you working on in your life, and who do you know and trust who would be able to offer some advice?
  3. Are you a mentor yourself? What skills or life lessons could you share? (You could already be a mentor to someone without realizing it!) Consider making yourself more available – pass along what you know.


And in the spirit of gratitude, this is a great time to thank the mentors who’ve given so freely to you. You wouldn’t have gotten this far without them.