Of Ants and Mentors

This year’s Mentorship York program is underway. Pictured here is the Mentorship York Class of 2014 at their January orientation session.  

This year’s Mentorship York program is underway. Pictured here is the Mentorship York Class of 2014 at their January orientation session.

 

by Julie Randall Romig

For as long as I can recall, I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by professional and personal mentors. I have a wonderful boss who believes in helping develop his staff as leaders and even engages us in “book reads” on leadership principles regularly. I have parents who have always taken a keen interest in helping my sister and I identify our professional and personal goals and create a roadmap to taking them from imagination to reality.

Despite these wonderful assets, by my mid-thirties, I had reached a slump - professionally and personally. I was less of a planner and more of a doer.

With two children and a full-time job, I barely had time to check and make sure my shoes matched let alone think about what was next for me professionally.

Then, I made an impulsive decision to say yes to an opportunity. I applied for Mentorship York, a program I had heard good things about but had put off investing time in because I was too mired in the chaos of daily life as a working mom to think beyond my next 15-minute interval.

That simple, impulsively submitted application, changed me and my life for the better … and forever.

There is a Henry David Thoreau quote that I love: “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

Before Mentorship York, I would have said I was busy trying to keep the balls I juggled from dropping. Before Mentorship York, I would have answered, “I’m busy just getting through today. And then I’ll get through tomorrow. And in a few years, I’ll think about where I’m going professionally again.”

Today, as a Mentorship York Class of 2012 graduate – one with a renewed sense of purpose and a more crystallized vision for my future at work and at home – I can’t imagine where I would be if I had listened to my original inner naysayer.

There are many valuable takeaways from participating in the program; the rich diversity of your classmates, the quality of the interactions you have with your chosen mentor, the leadership lessons you learn through conversation and self-reflection.

For me, the most valuable takeaway from the program was that I had to do more than just “show up” if I wanted to grow from the mentorship experience.  I had to take time each day to think about where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there. I had to give myself the luxury of a few extra minutes of self-reflection each morning so that I wasn’t just being busy like one of Thoreau’s ants, but working purposefully toward a goal, a vision for my professional and personal future.

Mentorship York lit a fire in me that inspired me to start a master’s program I had been postponing for years. Talking with my mentor helped me clarify steps I could take now – even as a harried working mom – to establish a better path toward my future goals.

Most of all, Mentorship York taught me that I needed to get over thinking I was “too busy” to dream about my future if I ever wanted to grow professionally and personally.

I’m still just as busy – if not more so – than I was before the program.

But I’m not an ant; this Mentorship York graduate is busy with a purpose.

 

Julie Randall Romig is the Director of Communications and Marketing for Central York School District and a graduate student in the George Washington University School of Political Management and Strategic Public Relations. She is a 2012 Mentorship York program graduate and resides in York, PA.