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Impacting Traits of Mentoring and Best Friends

Posted on August 18, 2016 at 10:45 PM

In talking about the Impacting Traits of an ideal best friend or mentor, my reflection turns immediately to my number one mentor. He is the best at turning what seemed to be a really bad moment in life into, if not at least a smile, an all out belly laugh. I’ll never forget my first important experience with this.


I was in the sixth grade. We were told by our teacher that we were to pair up to do a major project for our end of the year grade. I was teamed with my good friend David. We beat our brains against the wall trying desperately to come up with a project. Everyone else was bragging about what they were planning and some of the projects sounded like good ideas. Most were pretty lame. David and I had decided that, no matter what, we were going to out do everyone in the class. Somewhere out there was the project to end all projects out shining all other projects!


As David and I were doing unfathomable research in academic journals of the world of science and mathematics, in one of our periodicals, I believe it was, Iron Man The Inevitable - the Comic Book Series, we saw on the back of the magazine an advertisement. It was an advertisement for stamps. It said, “500 Stamps, On Approval, for 10¢”. That was it. That was our project right there. We would do a project that demonstrated our years of stamp collecting and expertise! So we ordered the stamps, but we did not order from just one of our journals of higher education, we ordered from about ten of them. It wasn’t long before the packages containing hundreds of stamps, “on approval”, began to turn up at my house… and of course, they came in my name.


The day arrived for the projects to be presented in class. Our stamp collection blew everyone away with our wide array of stamps from around the world. Our teacher could not believe the value of the stamps we had that, in some cases, had to be many years old. Of course we were quick to point out that money was no object to a serious stamp collector… she only stared.


All was well. We captured not only a great grade, but the accolades and respect of everyone in the class. We were basking in the glory when the first one came; the first bill for the stamps we ordered “On Approval”. It was for a whopping $380 dollars.


“David, what are we going to do? We don’t have three hundred and eighty dollars!”


“What do you mean “we”? That bill has your name on it not mine.” Thanks Dave.


And they continued to show up, one after another. As time went by, they started to change colors. They went from white, to green, to yellow, to blue, and then finally to this strange hot pink kind of fuchsia color.


I couldn’t tell anyone about this. I was afraid, mad at my partner for running out on me, and of course rather embarrassed for what my selfishness, pride, and stretching the truth (otherwise known as lying) had gotten me into. So I did the next best thing to confessing all of this to anyone… I hid the bills in my desk at school.


Inevitably, in every sixth grader’s life comes the moment, not to unpack the great valise of life, but rather, to clean out the messiest desks in the world.


As the teacher was walking around the room in surveillance, just in case someone had to be rescued from a dangerous item left in a desk for weeks unend, I suddenly noticed her standing next to me with a stack of colorful papers in her hand she had picked up from the populace of my desk.


“Jerry, what are these? They look serious! Does your father know about these? I think we had better go to the office and call him just to make sure he is fully aware… don’t you?”


“O yeah…great idea. Glad I thought of it.”


The phone call was made. I was informed that my dad would be waiting for me when I got home so I could explain exactly what was going on.


The four blocks home were the shortest four blocks of my life. I’d do anything if those four blocks could have turned into four miles and extend my life a bit longer. I didn’t want to go home and have to face what I was sure to be the most severe blasting I would ever receive in terms of words and punishment. O man, this was going to be bad.


I entered the back door quietly, but the squeak of the door betrayed me and I heard a familiar voice coming from the living room, “Jer, is that you?”


“Yeah dad.”


“Come in here, please.”


I slowly walked through the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the living room… head down, afraid to look up.


“Can I see these colorful papers your teacher called me about?”


I handed them over to the judge of all things in my world. Standing in-front of the imaginary bench of justice, I waited for the gavel and sentence of “life without everything I cherished” to be sent down.


I heard him shuffling through the stack of papers, one after another, after another, after another, and then it came…


He began to laugh.


The judge was laughing!


I looked up and there was my dad, laughing out loud.


So I started to nervously laugh a little, and soon my laugh grew a little louder and I couldn’t help but ask, “Dad, we are laughing. Why are we laughing?”


“Son, why didn’t you come and tell me about this long ago? This must be driving you crazy!”


“Yeah dad.”


I couldn’t help it. Right then, my laughter turned to tears.


“Son, don’t worry about this, I’ll take care of it. You made a mistake that we are going to have to talk seriously about, but I have a feeling you’ve learned a lot from this experience already. You go out and play now and we’ll talk about this later.”


What a freedom! There was first a freedom from this heavy unbearable burden and I found myself playing with a joy and carefree mind like I hadn’t played in weeks. This heavy load for which I had no answer as to how to escape, certain it would bring my demise, was suddenly lifted. But the greatest freedom for me was that I had unexpectedly realized for the first time I had a confidant and a partner that would share the heaviness of life with me. The freedom came in the realization that I Was Not Alone.


My dad was, long before I comprehended it and has since been, my number one mentor and best friend. How privileged I have been for that to be so. And because I have such a priceless treasure such as this in my valise of life, how much I want this for all other individuals facing that moment when they are not sure if they are, or are not, ALONE.


Great relationship descriptions in life always contain the words, “best friends”. With powerful and successful partnerships in any field of endeavor, equivalent words are found. In the midst of a special relationship there is a powerful trait that stands the test of time. It is a deeply rooted friendship.


In that kind of friendship is found the Impacting Traits of mentoring like, trust, understanding, forgiveness, a willingness to overlook certain personal weaknesses to be replaced by a focus of the essence of a life. Yet there are also the balancing traits of honesty, communicating at a deeper level, patience, kindness, and always believing the best in your friend even when others doubt or go so far as to render a judgment. With all of that, you’d better believe that any two who incorporate this quality of Impacting Traits into a relationship have become “best friends.”

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