I was once told that to really grow professionally, maximize your potential, and get to where you want to ultimately go in your career you need a mentor. You need a mentor in the profession that you work in and you need a mentor that gives you sage advice outside of your work. Well I'm here to say that every last bit of that advice has proven to be true. Despite my hard work ethic and my will to succeed, I can count numerous times where all of it could have been for not had I not been led or steered in the right directions during some of the most pivotal times in my life.
I would like to think I’ve always been a good decision maker but I know there has been times where I didn't know exactly what to do, or when I was ready to make a decision but I was unsure of it. During those times I was privileged to have someone that I trust who could guide me, who cared about my well being, and who wanted to see me succeed just as much as I wanted to succeed for myself. There have been those individuals who I’ve admired from afar, admired the way they've handled their business, carried themselves, and made positive choices. One of which, a former co-worker named Micheal or Mr. Mike as I like to call him.
My complete opposite upon appearance, he’s an older white gentlemen that I’ve always sat back quietly and observed how he has handled tough situations in the work place and how I’ve witnessed his faith in himself and his diligence in finding the right fit for himself professionally. My dad is another, I’ve blogged about him before, how much I’ve learned from him, respected his struggle and his efforts throughout life. My grandfather has been a mentor with his grace and willingness to always put issues or troubles to the side and seek peace and reconciliation even when others don't see it possible. Professionally a lady by the name of Mrs. Hedy Walls has been tremendous in her efforts to always speak to me frankly about work culture, how to conduct myself, what moves to think about making and when to make such moves.
Mr. Kerry Givens has been another, he’s been someone who has never backed away from giving me subtle words of advice when it comes to the organization that I work for and has always made me feel like his door is open just as Mrs. Walls has done the same. There are so many I could name, such as Mr. Jim McGowan who showed me what true class and professionalism looks like when I worked with him on an advocacy project in Washington D.C. on Capitol Hill for a week and Mrs. Diana Romo who showed me what dedication is as I watched her go through a lot during her years in the school system which she still works in and continues to come to work everyday and deal with things that she never reveals to anyone else. She has shown herself to be a pillar of strength and in such a quiet manner that I’m sure many other folks that work with her have no clue about what they have in their midst.
And last but not least, Antwan Flowers, Antwan was someone who gave me my first real job outside of college. He has given his life to public service and helping the community he lives in as well as guiding many young men like me, training us to see the bigger picture even when faced with things we don't like. I’ve been lucky to have so many great people come into my life and leave me with so many personal and professional tools that it’s an embarrassment of riches. It’s almost as if my life follows along like the book “The Alchemist.” It’s a book about a boy who goes on a journey that lasts him for years to find a fabled treasure, much like I search for professionally.
Along the way he encountered many individuals who taught him valuable lessons about life, himself and gave him tools that enabled him to survive his journey. The only thing is, unlike the boy in the Alchemist, I was to take the time out to realize those folks that have helped and mentored me along the way before the end of my journey or realizing my personal treasure. I don't want to get to the end of my journey to realize that they are the reason why I’ve gotten to where I’ve wanted to be. And if any of them happen to read this, I want to say humbly, that I thank you for all what you have done for me, and I’m still watching you and learning from you.