Textbooks are good… but mentors are GREAT!

A guest blog from THE Heather Mason

I was never the outgoing kid. I was the one who stayed in the background. I played sports, but I was also the nerdy one. And for that reason I would have probably been successful in some way. I was good at the things that school wants you to do well at ­- testing and reports. If I was headed into a career of testing and reports (is there one?), then I would have been well on my way. But that’s not reality. Real jobs and real careers are not multiple choice or six pages of double-spaced Times New Roman.

Fortunately for me, I had five people intervene in my life to teach me the other skills I so desperately needed without even knowing it.

My history teacher Mr. Francis told me when I was 15 that I was a leader. I actually laughed when he said that. It was the silliest thing I’d ever heard. I was the furthest thing from a leader, with my slouched posture, bitten nails, and well-worn clothes. He appointed me president of the Outdoor Club, and because he believed in me I was able to succeed. Attendance went from 7 to 75 in a year and I experienced the pride of leadership. Mr. Francis gave me that chance.

Presence and Poise
At the same time, I had the good fortune to run into a woman (Ms. Chris Nelson) who ran a modeling school in my hometown. When my parents found out what she was teaching, they figured out a way to send me to her classes. Her husband had spotted me while I was an office aid at junior high and said I had good cheekbones. I told my parents laughingly what he had said, and they jumped at the chance to help me. They had been worried about my tendency to look down, and in their words “look like a victim” — this was a chance to change that. I thought it would be interesting but so worried I wouldn’t fit in. From Ms. Nelson, I learned how to walk with confidence, style my hair, apply make-up, make eye contact, how to handle difficult questions in an interview and how to shake someone’s hand in a business setting. Things that really mattered to success, but school hadn’t taught me.

There was also the walking coach and dance instructor who both showed me how to walk head held high ­and with grace – skills which many teens (or adults!) never master. I know that it’s nothing more than that confidence (or the illusion of confidence) alone that has carried me into many a second job interview.

Bravery (or Public Speaking)heather blog pic
And I cannot forget the debate coach Ms. Robison, who wouldn’t let me drop the class even though on the first day, I couldn’t even stand up and say my name in front of everyone. Later, she told me I would be one of the best speakers she ever taught ­despite initial evidence to the contrary. And I was – winning a large share of trophies to prove it.

Without these individuals I would have likely been successful as a “smart” girl. But would I have reached my potential? Become well rounded? I don’t think so. Not everything is taught by teachers. Real life lessons are taught by the people in your life. Parents, debate coaches and club advisers. Without these mentors and the time they gave me, I am sure that I would not be where I am today.

I did grow up to be successful and with that success I have had the opportunity to meet many people – some of whom have changed the world. And when I met them, I was able to walk up confidently and shake hands the right way. That’s a win

Heather Mason
President of a Caspian Production http://acaspianproduction.com/
Founder of Surefire Girls http://www.surefiregirls.com/

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.