Mentors — with offering an abundance of good advice — help us to evolve into the people we aspire to become. On this Labor Day, I salute the mentors in my life — past, present and future. Often they appeared when least expected — all appreciated.
Labor Day is the last hoorah of summer for many in the United States (and around the world). It’s that wonderfully welcomed long weekend. Where it came from is found in the forgotten pages of history books. Some credit labor leader Peter McGuire for advocating for Labor Day. Others argue that another late 19th-century union leader, Matthew Maguire, deserves the hat tip.
Regardless of whether McGuire or Maguire was the originator of saluting workers’ contributions with a Federally approved day of appreciation, the result was that many people — but not all — are now blessed with an extra day off to rest and reflect.
Companies applaud their workplace communities’ efforts in building structures and machines, protecting public safety, administrating through finance, human resources and maintenance, inventing new medicines and life-sustaining devices and serving customers with a thoughtful smile in health settings, restaurants, shops and more. Everyone who brings their heart and soul to work deserves our thanks — every day, particularly on Labor Day.
Today is also a day to acknowledge the people who got us to where we are — our parents, teachers and mentors. We learned from them what to do, how to think through challenges, and when to realize we needed help to reach our goals.
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey
Mentors are special and precious. Sometimes they appear out of nowhere to help us grow. Other times, they’re appointed to the role. Often, they are adopted sector role models. They are family, friends, community members, veterans, and workplace leaders. They are never perfect beings, and that is what makes them valuable. We don’t have to be them — we see ourselves in the reflection of their lives. The best are authentic and offer support without the expectations of a “pay-back.” The wisest help me appreciate that office politics wastes time and emotional energy — a needless obstacle to bigger, life-changing goals.
I’ve been blessed with many exceptional mentors through the decades. Some disappeared in the pre-internet abyss and are untraceable. Other retired. Some have left this world for the next. All are remembered and appreciated. They helped make me who I am — for whatever that’s worth.
Through the years, mentors have included clients who offered me a window into their lives and gifted me an enduring lesson. Surprisingly, there are quite a few younger colleagues termed Millennials and Gen X, Y and Z whose generational interests and aspirations help me to be more expansive and current. I’m ecumenical when it comes to where I pick up a good life lesson. I’m still traveling in my “Tardis” time machine, trying to learn, apply, and be a better me. So, young and old — you are making me smarter every day we labor together. Mentors, and the readiness to learn from each other, make amazing things possible.
To all of you — to all my mentors — thank you! I am what I am today in relation to your ideas and guidance. Sometimes, I heeded your counsel. Other times, I pioneered my way. But the conversations made an impact. My labor today is fulfilling. I was inspired by the teachers who gave of themselves and infused me with a passion for the work. Mentors reminded me that our labor — every moment — can make a difference.