There are those of us who would say we aren’t the “mentee” type. We’re big on sound advice and try to absorb as much as we can, but to be attached to someone in the context of a mentor has never been appealing for the sake of the beat of your own drum and all that good stuff.
We think we have no one to answer to. Sure, we deal with bosses at jobs and internships over the years, and while compelled to succeed, we’re too proud to do anything less than bounce back and redeem ourselves. But, my change of mind came without warning and slapped me in the face nine months ago when I began working for Sabrina.
I don’t think I’ve ever cared for anyone’s opinion (outside of my parents’) as much as I do hers and I’ve had trouble at figuring out exactly why that is. So, every time I make a mistake, I’m crippled. I’m flustered and mess up some more, and the cycle continues. That’s why when she uttered the words, “everybody’s entitled to one fuck up” as we ate lunch half way across the globe, it felt like a wave of relief especially considering the fact that I’ve had more than one.
I was once told that all great leaders have two defining characteristics, with one of them being the ability to continuously remind their employees of the bigger picture, and that’s something Sabrina consistently does. “I don’t want you to forget your ‘Why,’” is what she tells me whenever I’m falling behind and it’s a phrase she had to repeat while we were in China when I had to face the consequences of a few careless mistakes I made prior to our trip. But her loyalty and ability to see straight to the core of your potential is what’s been my saving grace time and time again
That much was true when I witnessed her verbally destroy an ex-employee in defense of a new one after having to face the former’s betrayal and witnessing the latter’s dedication.
That much was true when I watched her forgive the man she believed to have stepped out on her while she left to expand her business overseas.
Hilariously, it was true when she and her five-year old son turned up to Plies’s “Rock” just a couple of hours after she cursed him out for wasting her money after he threw away a virtually untouched apple juice.
A few setbacks on this most recent trip to China have caused her to have to rethink the entire infrastructure of one her businesses and I know it wasn’t easy. Whenever she recounts the mistakes of her past life, she always says she wishes she handled it “with just a bit more grace,” and it’s a lesson she carries with her in all situations. She’s gracious enough to allow me these “fuck ups” because she’s endured a few of her own.
There’s nothing more rewarding than waking up to find that you’ve survived what you thought would be the end of the world. It’s a new opportunity to rethink and reshape your plans. Just because the route changes, doesn’t mean the destination is lost or further away. All it means is that you’ll have to try something different in order to get there.
One of the books I’ve borrowed from Sabrina’s library happens to be Stuart Wilde’s “Silent Power, and in it, he talks about the Taoist principle of Wu Wei or non-action. The wisdom of Wu Wei is this: “pushing, not forcing.” It takes practice, but the idea is to move relentlessly and patiently toward your goals.
Sometimes the answer isn’t in wasting all of your energy to break through obstacles and leave a mess behind, but rather making a clear calculation on how to gracefully walk around them.