Monday, May 23, 2011

Words of Influence

A leader in business, a voice in academia, a veteran of the armed forces, an expert in relational mentoring, and a professor of influence, he's more than 70 years old.

He's been mentoring me for two years.

He has called me every two weeks for the last five months. His last message: "Hey, kid. I'm not giving up on you. Let me buy you lunch."

He sat across the table with his creamy cup of coffee, me with my diet Coke. And he poured himself into me.

Everything will be different now, kid. Harder. Everything. Harder.

The world won't stay in this with you. Some of them will... a few of them. But most of them won't. The world can't deal. They don't want to stay in this place. News has a three-day cycle; tragedies that happened four days ago aren't on the news anymore. Because there's another one around the bend, and the world is waiting for that one. They can't stay where you are, kid.

It's sad but true.

They'll move on. You gotta learn how to do this, whether they stay in it with you or not.

I know it doesn't feel like it, but you're one lucky girl. You had ten years of what most people don't get twenty minutes of. You had love. You had friendship. I could see it in your eyes, every time you talked about him. You had it. And that'll carry you another fifty years, kid. Fifty years.

I don't know if you'll get married again, but you know what I say? Who cares if you do? Who cares if you don't? You had it once. That's a pretty great gig, if you can get it.

If you do get married, it won't be because you need a man in your life. It will be because someone sees your strengths and your skills, and he comes alongside you. You know what I mean by 'alongside?' I mean, alongside. Together beside you. Not pulling you along or dragging you behind. Alongside.

People are watching you, but you can't give them all a voice. You know what I say? I say don't defend yourself to anyone. You do your best, you do it your way, the way you know how. And you don't defend yourself. They'll have advice; they'll have criticism. You can't let it shape you, kid. Make the best decision you can every single day. And don't defend it. Just do your best. You know your best.

You can get an A- on a paper, but you know if it really deserved a B. You can snowball a professor now and then, but you know if you did your best.

You can get a standing ovation, but you know if you deserved it. You know. You know if you had your head in the game or if you just stood up there and read your notes.

You know, kid. You gotta do your best. And don't defend it. Just do your best.

Look at this empty chair. Pretend he's in it. What did he call you? He called you Baby Girl... you know what he'd say? He'd say,

'Hey, Baby Girl? I love you. I still do. I didn't want to leave you. But I'm so proud of you. You go do this, Baby Girl. You're strong, you're wise, and you can do this. Now you do it. Do it your way. I'm proud of you, Baby Girl.'

It's a new chapter now, kid. You're a writer - you know what that means. It means you decide what happens next. It'll be hard. It'll be different. But you can do it.

Leadership is the path from intelligence to wisdom. You're on that path, kid. You're earning wisdom that a dozen degrees can never give you.

You need to cry? You call me. I can host a pity party with you. You bet I can, you bet I will. And then I'll tell you to get out there and do this thing. Because you can. I know you can.

And Robb knows you can. You hear him, Tricia? "Baby Girl, I'm proud of you."

Kid, I just had to see you for myself. I had to look at you with my own eyes. I had to see that you're okay. And I think you're right where you should be.

Can you stay longer today, Tricia?

"Oh, I would love to, I really would. And you have blessed me today. But really, I'm learning that I need to sleep. I have to sleep every day. I really need to."

Hey, kid. What did I tell you? No defending. Don't defend yourself. You make your decision, and you don't defend it. You didn't offend me, you owe me no apology. No defending. You do what's best for you and those boys.

And you stay in touch. I'm not giving up on you, kid.

And neither is he.

"I'm proud of you, Baby Girl." That's what he'd say.

Now you go do this thing.


Karin said...

He sounds pretty wise to me Tricia.

Kay Day said...

What a blessing. A sweet blessing.

Kris Anne said...

He sounds like the perfect gift in your life right now. What a loving, wise, truthful man!

Majorsfam said...

Tricia! What an awesome man you have to guide you! I must say, I read your blog, but I have never judged! I read, mainly, for 2 reasons. 1) I adore the kind of marriage you and Robb had. I love hearing about your love for each other and it encourages me to be a better wife! And 2) I'm taking notes! I'm amazed at how well you're doing. I pray for you like crazy, but I am truly amazed. I'm taking notes! Should the Marines ever show up at my door while Matthew is away, I will have these notes tucked away in my mind. And I'll probably find myself reading your blog to remember. Tricia, I'm not going to call you "strong". Every time my husband is deployed, someone calls me "strong", and I hate it. I feel like I was designed this way, not very strong, and I'm glad I don't have to try to be something I wasn't designed to be. I can cry my eyes out and have huge meltdowns, and that's ok. I don't have to be tough! I do have a strong faith, and the strength of your faith is what amazes me! I read, I pray, and I take notes. To have such strong faith tucked into that fragile heart of yours'..... it's something I don't understand, Tricia!

Jaimie said...

This is just wonderful advice for anyone. It resonated with me so much. How awesome it must be to have a cheerleader like that, to hear that in person.

AKO Team said...

I am still with you, and will continue to pray for you (probably for the rest of my life) and I really like this friend of yours. I feel like you're a beautiful star and the more darkness you're thrown into the brighter you shine. And we have been so blessed to see your beauty in Christ shine!

I am honored to have had the privilege to serve you your favorite coffee the past few years.

AKO Team said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gluten free girl in a pasta world said...

What a great mentor. Praying rest for you.
I love that Rob called you "baby girl" so sweet.

my3boys said...

You are a lucky girl to have so many people to bless you with their love and wisdom.

Penny said...

Sounds like good advice, Tricia! :)

Janeen said...


Joel and Ingrid said...

What a gift

Terry said...

dear tricia...i am so glad that you have enabled your comments because i can feel so free to tell you some things..
this is a lovely man indeed!
you know, when my sister, grace's husband left for heaven at the tender age of 28, he left his little wife[23 years old] and four small children. people gave her the advise to marry as soon as she could so the children would have a father...and this used to really annoy her...she was still in the stages of grieving...well, she was brave and would tell them, "no! i will never marry accept for love. i am not closing the door but it will be for LOVE and not for convenience!"
well, it never did happen tricia and she raised those four children with the help of the lord!
three of them got college degrees and the one girl who didn't is a happy wife and mother of children.
oh you are so fortunate having a mentor like this lovely elderly man are truly blessed and i must tell are a blessing to this old lady of 61!
you are an encourager! terry