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Note: To see all the lessons, click on the category: Making Big Things Happen

We are home!  We’ve done our laundry, washed our hair, and played with our dogs!  As I look over the notes and cards I’ve been getting from you, two more lessons come to mind that I would like to share with you.  (Also, I had a lot of time to think while I was riding my bicycle to Chicago.) I’m sure you and your teachers can think of many more lessons.

You can suggest them to me!

A woman named Marsha Sinetar taught me that: “A mentor is an artist of encouragement.”  When we learn to encourage others, we learn what we need from others when it is our turn to ask for help.  Encouraging others feels good.  Just like any skill in life, the more you practice the better you get at making others feel supported, valued and encouraged.  When I set out to do the Tillie Ride, I wanted to be a mentor to you by showing you that you could pick something very hard and accomplish it if you broke it down into smaller pieces.  I encouraged you by

1) giving you specific examples of ways I thought you could overcome the obstacles in your life

2) having faith in you

3) sharing my struggles

4) reminding you of your strengths

I’m so much older than you that I thought I knew a lot more about mentoring than you do.  But guess what?  I think you know as much or more than me because you mentored me all the way to Chicago.  You helped me pedal more than 260 miles! How did you do that?

1) By having faith in me

2) By cheering me on

3) By understanding my values and goals (your success and the success of my team!)

3) By showing me you had been listening to the lessons I gave you.  I knew that through your posters,  letters, questions and comments.  It made me feel like all the hard work was worth it!

Really good mentors are thoughtful listeners.  They ask good questions.  They provide encouragement and a safe place for you to come to express your doubts and fears.

You are really good mentors.  Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

You expressed confidence in my abilities

You pictured me succeeding!

You sent encouraging emails:

You can do it! You are very nice and you came to our school in Allendale!!! It was really cool thinking that you were here and we got to meet you!! I hope you are having a fun and a good time! YOU CAN DO IT!!!! Keep think positive and you will have even a better time!

You showed me I was successful in mentoring you

You encouraged me in areas you knew I felt weak (my ability to ride as far as Chicago…my funny-looking hair)

You treated me with respect and listened to what I had to say

Knowing you put so much time into your encouraging posters gave me the energy to keep going!

What you did for me was so big and so important that it inspired my final lesson of the year: Gratitude.