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I am a reformed brilliant jerk.

… and I’m sorry.

I explain mentoring to my mentees like supporting my daughter’s evolutionary drive to walk. I didn’t mock or laugh at my daughter while she was learning to walk. I also didn’t do the work for her. Instead, I was her biggest fan. I picked her up when she fell. Her failures took her one step further — and we’d celebrate. I expected her to fall a million times before she learned to walk and I’d love her no matter how many times she failed. I am not sure why we lose this empathy with adults.

That’s the mentor I am today and the person I will be the rest of my life. I’d like to share a special moment with one of my mentees.

This mentees mind had been struggling to disassociate negative events from their past from the unlimited possibilities of their future.

Too many negative experiences had forged too many neural pathways to their negative self-image and that was wearing them down. They were alone. How could anyone expect them to break their negative associations alone? I sure didn’t and accepted them with open arms.

Their story shook me to my core. No human comes pre-wired for this scenario (batteries not included). They had never been treated that way by another person within the context of work and they had no idea how to manage the situation they were in. Worse, they didn’t know who they could trust after an experience like theirs.

It made me grind my teeth to hear how they were cut down instead of built up. This is why I mentor. Thank you to everyone who lets me serve you, especially you in this story; you know who you are 🙇🏻‍♀️.

During this check-in, we were talking about Growth Mindset and how,

“Who you are today, isn’t who you were yesterday, or who you’ll be tomorrow” … and in a growth mindset, “you can’t predict who you’ll be in three years.”

I think I exhaust my mentees with that quote, or perhaps it lacks substance.

This day, I shared with my mentee that once, I was a brilliant jerk. Who I was, was not who I wanted to be, is not who I am, and not who I’ll ever be again.

They tend to hog all the airtime at meetings by intimidating and maybe even ridiculing those who might have the audacity to offer their own take on a situation — thus suppressing collaboration and participation throughout the rest of the organization. They also follow their own rules and are even abusive to the rest of the staff. They aren’t nice people to be around.” — Jim Schleckser CEO, Inc. CEO Project

The article cut me deep — the words crept up on me at night and I wasn’t sleeping well. I had been working on high performing teams for a while, and with that, a higher ratio of brilliant jerks. They had impressed on me. I was becoming a brilliant jerk and I hated myself. It wasn’t who I wanted to be, rather a necessary evil to get work done at a dysfunctional rate.

If you knew my childhood, you’d know why I demand love, respect, and kindness from everyone around me. Too much of my life was wasted on hate, disrespect, and cruelty. I don’t have time for adults acting like children. That was not who I was, but it was who I had become.

When my time was up with that company I said goodbye to some amazing peers…and some not-so-amazing peers. I hired a therapist to shake my regrets and have since moved on, here, now, back on the side of respect and kindness.

I will never forget the way I treated other people.

And that’s when my mentees light went on and they thanked me for sharing.

Them knowing who I am today, someone who is kind, tender, and respectful; were woke by an act of vulnerability. They will change, grow, and thrive because of it. And I will be there for them through their entire journey. I make that commitment to every mentee.

I don’t expect my mentee to change immediately. I expect relapses of their self-image. I expect them to fail and I plan to help them recognize their success through the actions taken after failure every step of the way. My mentees are 💪🏼.

That being said, a simple act of vulnerability can break someone’s negative thought patterns and help them forge new pathways of thinking, ”I can, I will, I must, I am!”. Be the person who wakes others growth mindsets.

Kindness is my superpower and I’d rather be known as brilliantly kind than as a brilliant jerk any day of the week.

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