Recently I had an opportunity to spend a weekend with a former boss and mentor at his summer home. The setting was idyllic and the conversation flowed with ease. The depth of the connection was palpable. The experience would remind me of the continuous, reciprocal cycle that learning follows between two people—teacher and student—when it is at its best.
A number of years ago, this person challenged me to reach what seemed like almost unreachable goals at the time. However, it was the way he helped me form a vision for what was possible as he held a supportive space for me to find my own way to realize the goal. It was autonomy with expectations and a soft place to land when necessary. I knew I could always reach out to him, if needed. As the years progressed that model propelled me to coach, mentor, and inspire people to realize that their life really matters and they can fulfill the highest, most authentic expression of their self as a human being, while also helping others.
Now, I sit with my former boss and mentor, along with his wife, sharing all the unexpected twists and turns of life that got thrown at us. I am struck by the poignancy and depth of the heartfelt conversation between the three of us. I could feel their compassion and appreciation for how I have dealt with losses in my life. I could feel my heart igniting.
As we sat and talked we were looking out on a pond and ocean that combined in ways to give a feeling of infinity. I realized in that moment it was a familiar unbounded space that had returned me to where the connection all began between teacher and student. Although my life and that of my mentor have taken very different paths, I began to once again feel his interest and encouragement for me to look anew at where I stand in life. I was feeling once again like I was stepping into my “field of dreams” to think about something I have never done before. The teacher and mentor in me had once again become the student.
I am now reinvigorated to not incarcerate my mind in ways that keep me from creating new ways of being, as I am living my life on purpose and encouraging others to do so. My face is now once again turned toward the future. When is the last time you got a “checkup” from your greatest teacher? Don’t delay and remember to pay the learning forward.