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Mothers, Mentors & Me

"You'd like my mother!" or "You're a lot like my mother!" I often hear from younger women.

At first, I was offended by statements like this.

Was it because of my age? My tenacity (aka nagging)? My penchant for real phone conversations in addition to Slack?

But then I realized that it could be a form of flattery. Moms know stuff. I lost my own mother at 95 a couple of years ago. I began to appreciate her wisdom and life experience for the first time when she was in her 80s, and I was in my 50s.

I finally embraced that older women know stuff that younger women don't -- in life and in work.

For example, my daughter recently sent a job-hunting friend to me. After our convo, she thanked me for my insights and connections. I felt valued (which many women struggle with as we age).

May is mentoring month at SOS.

What does that mean? We:

Mentoring and mothering take many forms.

We, as women, need to learn to ask for help from the right people at the right time. When we find our mentor(s) we should listen and learn from them.

Thought leader Cindy Gallop takes mentorship one step further. She recently wrote on Medium:

Women don’t need mentors. [We] need champions. Women need people prepared to do what men get all the time — which is have other men go out on a limb for them. Women need the person who, behind closed boardroom doors, will slam their fist on the table and say: 'If there’s only room in the budget for one pay rise in my department it’s going to Jane, not John.'"

(I'm assuming, of course, that this Jane is the most qualified for the role.)

I was recently talking to fellow SOS board member Dani Donovan and coined the phrase "micro mentoring moments." Aside from being a fun alliteration, it captures the notion that all life and work lessons don't need to be part of a formal mentoring process. By hanging out with people at different stages and roles, we can learn small things that may have a mighty impact.

Sometimes perspectives or opinions of others don't resonate with us at the moment, but take a pause and listen.

When confronted with people who nag, learn how to handle them.

If you are a mentor, ask your mentee/protegee periodically if and how they benefit from the relationship.

If you're being mentored by someone wiser and more experienced than you are, be grateful for their time and attention and speak up if you need something other than what you're getting from them.

And, if someone ever says to you, "You'd like my mom!" or even "You'd like my daughter!" take that as a compliment and assume that it's because you're smart and cool and not that you need a behavior adjustment or left dirty dishes in the sink.

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