On Mentors

I have been a fortunate beneficiary of mentoring for all my life. It certainly started with my parents, aunts and other relatives. It continued on to teachers, coaches, and family friends. It progressed to professors, employers, coworkers, podcast hosts, authors, colleagues, friends, and peers. Below is my attempt to list a few aspects related to mentorship that have been key to my formation. Maybe these can help if you’re wondering where to start.

Disclaimer: Some are straight-forward. Some aren’t. Also, this is not a complete list – I already know I am missing things, people, moments.

 

Have role models / Be one

  • My mother: provided guidance, opportunities, reading material, the work ethic of a thousand Italian relatives, and all of the love.
  • My godmother: I am still in awe of her deliverance to her work, her strength, and integrity (when I was a kid I believed she and my mother would rule the world – seriously).
  • My grandmother: example of a work ethic that is of her time but translates into mine and into my blood. Raised four children while running a butcher shop and the household. At 84, still crochets clothes for newborns and donates them to the poor.

 

Small things

  • My aunt: showed me that patience, focus and dedication will go a long way (math teacher).
  • My father: provided the creative outlets I needed for development of artistic expression, whether it was lectures on Gaudí, acrylic paint, or a CorelDRAW license.
  • My grandmother: taught me that opportunities are not to be missed (the one piece of advice that changed my life).
  • My ballet coaches, my father: taught me criticism (constructive and negative), the value of one’s craft, and the level of respect to which it should be upheld.
  • My professors: showed me the value of criticism, ownership, productivity and engagement.
  • First PA I worked for: always gave clear instructions and made sure I understood expectations.
  • First employers in architecture: had candid and patient explanations to my questions. Taught me “there are no stupid questions”. Provided me with opportunities to succeed and always had my back when I didn’t, an attitude that I still treasure as a true showing of character. Pushed me forward, and believed in me more than I ever believed in myself.
  • The professionals I look up to at work/beyond: bore with me when I acted as a nerd because I knew about their work when meeting them, and thankfully stuck around for the joyful conversations that stemmed. Accepted random requests for coffee. Are still pushing me forward, sitting with when I’m alone in the kitchen, recommending things to read/do/apply/write for, and simply being open to having a conversation.
  • My husband, my friends: taught me mental models. Have been willing to listen, to advise, to plan for the future, to co-author projects, and to just have a drink and forget about it. Believe in me beyond my own belief.

 

To them go my deepest admiration and gratitude. In an attempt to conclude…

A mentor is a person in your life who will have an impact on the long haul, whether they stay for it or not. Whether you stay for it or not.

Mentors can arm you with opportunity for growth, and the confidence to do it.

Mentors should advocate for you, and should be critical of you.

Mentors should be able to have your best interest at heart when providing advice.

Mentoring is about the willingness to push someone other than yourself forward.

 


This post is a follow-up to my #ArchiTalks post on mentorship. Check it out here.