I have always been surrounded by great people, whether personally or professionally. I just haven’t always been able to recognize two things: that I was, in fact, surrounded by great people, and sometimes, my judgement of who was great was off.
I learn by reading, doing, and observing (I usually say I’m learning by osmosis). I’ve learned that sometimes, no matter who is saying it, or how many times it’s said, it can be hard to hear the truth and implement the appropriate changes. I’ve also learned that people will treat you how you train them to treat you.
I’ve had two professional experiences that really kicked me and had me recognize that my judgement of character can sometimes be the opposite of fact. A woman I considered a mentor turned out to hate me and had it out for me. I didn’t find this out until recently. She was kind, thoughtful, caring, and generous in person which is why I was so blind-sided by the news. Now I know why no one from that time of my life will return my emails. More recently, someone who billed themselves as pillar of the community, someone who cared about people, about me, reneged on a pretty important promise. I trusted this person to be their word. At least with this situation, I had some idea that this was a possibility as my gut had been telling me for months that this person really wasn’t trustworthy. But it still pulled the rug out from under me and really had me doubting my worth professionally. The take away from these two unwitting mentors was to be careful who you trust. Things are not always as they appear.
More recently, though, I’ve developed a professional/friendly relationship with a woman who is as she bills herself to be. From her, I’ve learned the power of networking and that no matter how infuriating the person on the other end of the phone may be, it’s her/my job to direct the conversation in a positive and professional matter. She can be just as hot-headed as I am so her ability to do this is incredible to me, especially since until recently I was an act first, think later type of person. (Now I think, and think, and think some more. I rarely get around to acting. How’s that for over-compensation?) She has been an advocate for me in so many ways, I have no idea how to thank her. Perhaps the best way is to go forth and be successful. She has restored my sense of self-worth.