Courtney Lynch, April 11, 2016
I am fortunate to have a mentor that I’ve known for ages. In high school she seemed incredibly glamorous and sophisticated. I recently saw her, and she’s still glamorous and sophisticated. Sandra is also incredibly wise. Each time we meet, I take away a piece of timeless advice. During my younger years, I wasn’t always mature enough to understand her advice. Yet the wisdom she shared was often so memorable, by the time I reached a stage in life where it was relevant, it would come rushing back to the forefront of my mind.
Sandra is now in her 70’s. During a recent encounter at a family celebration, I found myself literally sitting on the floor next to her chair taking in her thoughts and perspectives. We laughed at who we once were and marveled at all the years we’ve known each other. I also shared back with her the guidance she’d given me. Without even realizing it, she was my first leadership teacher.
Here are a few key pieces of wisdom she’s shared through the years.
- Comparisons to others are useless. As a young person, she sharply reminded me that someone will always be smarter, prettier, richer, faster, stronger, more patient (it was a very long list of qualities) but that none of that mattered. My job was to understand who I was and work to set and meet the standards that were important to me. As a teenager hearing that perspective made me defensive at first (didn’t she know how cool I was?) but by the time I got to my 20’s and beyond, it became a valuable mantra as I set out to chart my own course in the world.
- Learn to quiet your mind. Sandra shared this wisdom a decade before I had even heard of the mindfulness movement. When she first told me this one (during my 20s) I guess my mind wasn’t too cluttered since I couldn’t quite grasp its meaning. Today in my 40s with three kids, a thriving business and tons of logistics, activities and issues to resolve, I completely appreciate the value of quieting your thoughts.
- Clichés are clichés because they are true. When I was in my 30s, we talked about all of the sayings you hear through the years. “Time is money,” “Love is blind,” “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” She encouraged me to examine a cliché every time I heard one- not to refute it, but to reflect on how it has meaning in my life.
So, as is typical during our time together, I once again asked her for advice. My question was, “What do I need to know that I might not yet be ready to understand?” She asked for time to reflect on that as some other guests came to join us.
As the night was winding down, I ran into her in the hall. She confidently said, “I’ve got your next piece of advice.” I eagerly awaited her words. They were simple ones I had heard before, but somehow hearing them from Sandra made them imperative:
“Be present. You are always so forward thinking, and I know that’s important, but as you age, seek to savor all moments- the mundane and the fantastic.”
Timeless advice for the ages. And, as I’ve come to appreciate with Sandra’s wisdom, it was easy to understand yet remains challenging (and worthwhile) to implement.