This doesn’t directly apply to our business, but in a way it does. None of us gains our expertise and wisdom to succeed in life without help, whether we’re real estate redevelopers, business owners, contractors, or property owners (or anyone else, for that matter). We have all had mentors who have generously shared their thoughts with us or lived by example, and these folks help make us who we are. Who are your mentors? Have you let them know how much you appreciate them lately?
My Family Friend
I am sitting here today, grieving the loss of one of my mentors, a man who showed me how to live a life of principle and peace and who got me through some really rough times better than I ever thought I would. Now, I’m sure my friend Ed Harris knew he’d been a great help to my family for many years, because he knew he was a good neighbor to my parents in North Carolina and was generous in sharing his home and hospitality many times, including when my father passed away very unexpectedly. This is just how he and his wife, Ann, lived their lives.
But I wonder if he knew how much the talks we used to have as we shared meals or just shot the breeze helped me as I learned to do a better job treating others as I’d like to be treated? I benefited so much from hearing him talk about the lessons he learned from students he taught, the strength that comes from maintaining good relationships with people with whom you have deep disagreements, and most important, how much joy he got from making the most of his leisure times. It’s why I stop to enjoy the beauty around me and don’t spend all my time working on my two jobs (and my volunteer board position). Ed shared how his Quaker spirituality helped shape him, and those ideas, in turn, shaped me.
You just never know, when you are chatting with someone, playing with your dog, watching the birds in the feeder, the effect your words and actions may have on the other person. And that’s important, too. You may be shaping the lives of others, for better or worse. Remember this as you make business decisions or talk about others. You could be serving as a positive or negative example that changes someone.
None of us are perfect or lead a life of total happiness, but like Ed did for me, how we deal with life can help others when they deal with challenges. Ed’s example of living his beliefs while coexisting with others, and of being of service in many ways has helped make me who I am. I’ll miss his wise counsel, and I know his family will as well.
To honor all he taught me, I asked the florist to put some birds in the flowers I sent for his memorial service. They symbolize a lot of chatting as we watched the very happy birds outside his family room window, during good times and bad. Probably no one will notice or realize what they mean, but it makes me happy to know they are there.
What to Do Now?
I’ll tell you what I want to do now, and that’s to make sure the people who have been there for me and served as examples in both my professional and personal live KNOW how much they’ve meant to me. There are a couple of people who are going to get a nice message from me in the next couple of days.
If someone has done even a little thing to help you grow in your business or outside of it, let them know. A card, a letter, a quick phone call, a Facebook message, an email…any of these things can mean a lot. I know, because Mandi made a couple of really kind comments on this blog recently that helped me see that I am passing on some of the life lessons I learned from Ed and other mentors. I think that’s what we’re here for, to support and help each other as we do our best in business and friendship.
Peace to all of you who read this.