December 20, 2011 HR, Management

Life’s Influence

I’d like to say that when I was younger I knew exactly what I was going to do with my life and where I was going – but the truth is like many young people I really didn’t have a clue.  And I do believe that some of the paths I almost took would likely have led to a destination I wouldn’t be happy with today.

But how do you know what you don’t know?

A business colleague asked me the other day what influenced me to start my own business rather than continue to grow with an organization.   My reply was pretty quick. The practice of managing people is often the weakest link in an organization and yet we depend on our employees to run our organizations.    I wanted to take all of the experiences I have gained over the years and offer that expertise to organizations that can’t afford fulltime HR staff, but need guidance in creating work environments that attract and retain top performers.

I started thinking though.  I believe I was always meant to help others in some form or fashion.  So many people influenced my life in many different ways. Not always good, but always good learning.  I would love to take the credit for all the positive choices in my life, but the truth is, even in the worst of times someone is influencing your next decision.

But in my reply to my colleague I reflected on two separate conversations I had in my mid 20’s: one with a more experienced coworker, and one with my boss at the time. I won’t go into the details, but I will say that a couple of 20-minute discussions truly did change my life.

These two people apparently recognized my strengths and understood my struggles. Their suggestions for my professional development came unsolicited; and as I look back I know I probably would never have asked.

If I hadn’t taken advantage of their wisdom when it came to me, I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. It’s impossible to predict just where I would have ended up, but I do know that I am very happy with how it’s all played out so far…

So, to me, those two short conversations were powerful mentoring moments that shifted the course of the rest of my life. I’ve learned that mentorship can come in the form of a structured, formal program; or that it can show up as an impromptu 20-minute conversation while eating lunch.

Who’s helped you out through their words of wisdom? How did that change your life? Were their moments in your life in which you wish someone had offered up their knowledge? When have you been a mentor, and how could this have potentially changed a life?

The point is to not hold back. Share your wisdom. You never know the impact you may have with your words. And the bonus is that the more we give, the more we get back – and the happier we are!