Own Your Mentorship and the Giants I Stand Upon

As I completed my self-assessment this year, I started thinking about the giants I stood upon throughout my career. And what I realized most is that emerging leaders need to own their mentoring. There is really need for formal mentorship. It is simply a matter of whether you want to learn from all those around you and whether you’ll take that time to listen, observe, and discuss with folks.

Mentorship is people watching and listening.

With that, I’d like to pay homage to those Giants that have and continue to mentor me along the way.

To Dr. Littlefield: I learned the importance of trust and leadership identification. In everything you did, trusting people was at your core. Because of that, your eyes were always on identifying leaders that could be grown. I carry these with me always.

To Dr. Amburgey and Dr. Carey: I learned the importance of a sense of agency. The two of empowered and believed in your teachers as well as students. You both empowered and encouraged risk-taking. You both created the greatest safety net a leader can provide: assurance and permission. I carry these with me always.

To Dr. Riggle: I learned the importance of being human, agile, innovative, and broad as well as deep in my thinking. You taught me humility and to care about each and every person. You encouraged  seeing beyond black and white. You showed the importance of never landing. Your belief in moonshot thinking and day-to-day growth continues to inspire all. Your depth and breadth of practical as well as visionary leadership set you apart from all others. I carry these with me always and will never forget where I came from in life.

To Dr. Williamson: I learned the importance of curiosity, openness, patience, thoughtfulness, and thoroughness. Your depth of understanding yet constant curiosity emerge over and over. You bring a stability to all situation that puts people at ease but creates momentum to growth. Your understanding of learning, teaching, and living are the standard for all. I carry these with me always.

To Dr. Pryma: I learned the importance of joy, happiness, and standing for what you believe. In a world governed by following, you set a course that focused on good people and ensuring they remained happy and joyful. You stood firm on the lost art of the teacher as leader and never waffled on seeing hyper-standardization as the antithesis of education.

To Ms. Frandson: I learned the importance of being and finding oneself. Your thirst for life and energy for something higher radiates. You embodied relaxed purposefulness and encourage reflection in all you do. I carry these with me always.

To Dr. Finan: I learned the power of reflection, pause, and laughter. Your strength of listening and reflecting bring a quite sense of progress. You show that laughter is the great equalizer regardless of situation. I carry these with me always.

To Ms. Geddeis: I learned about life and living with a constant sail pointed north. Your thirst for life and belief in the power of a smile lights up a room. You bring an energy that makes any moment worth being part of regardless of the situation. You encourage being oneself and value the island of misfit toys to a point where it leads to the greatest confluence of actionable ideas. I carry these with me always.

To Mr. Doug Johnson: I learned the value of listening and never being too big. You took a kid and gave him 15 minutes of time as you headed off to a flight for which the theme of “listen” emerged. Your wisdom in that 15 minutes of face to face time has created years of “listening” to you virtually. I carry these with me always.

To Mr. David Jakes: I learned the value of relying on others, being yourself, and trusting in time. Your constant elegance is a sign of times gone by. You bring a professionalism and class to all you do. Your loyalty and friendship are something untouchable. I carry these with me always.

Who are you watching, listening to, talking to, and discussing with? Who are those folks that you’ve established as mentors and carry away from them those items of great value that shape your leadership?

1 Comment

  1. Hi Ryan,

    I am genuinely humbled by your mention. Your thoughts on your blog have repaid any kindness I may have shown many times over.

    And I am convinced, you will continue to “pay it forward” for many years.

    Keep up the good work and thank you,



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