As I saw the words super power I thought of some of my teenage grandchildren who love to watch super hero movies. Unlike the superheroes with their super powers, I can’t leap a tall building in a single bound, stop a speeding bullet, or fly through the sky. It took some reflective moments and honest, inward questioning to decide which quality, which strength I would identify in myself as my super power. I realize now, that the skill of easily understanding and connecting with others is that super power. It helps me be a better listener, a better presenter, a better editor, and a better friend.
For years, my youngest daughter, with her special needs and limited communication skills, helped me improve and hone the skill of reading body language; to discern and understanding someone else’s needs and desires because of her inability to know which words to use. She depended on me to figure it out so I could help her, advocate for her, and guide her to be the best she could be. This connection can also be thought of as mentoring.
I began to think of what qualities are embodied in mentoring. The definition of a mentor is to be an experienced or trusted adviser. Synonyms which resonate with me and I identify with include, adviser guide, consultant, confidante, trainer, and teacher. Being a mentor is all about creating connections with others by listening to their ideas and words, hearing their desires, and offering them help to reach their goals.
Many times people who have listened to me speak have given feedback of how approachable I am, how easy it is to connect with me. To be approachable is part of being a mentor, a teacher, a trainer, or an advisor. As I listen to people, I am able to hear not only the words they say, but to discern the meaning and intent behind the needs they are trying to express. I am then able to formulate into words what I am hearing them say both verbally and non-verbally. I offer this back to them to let them know I am listening, trying to understand them, and making myself available to help them without diminishing their needs or stealing their ideas. I can sit back and enjoy their ‘ah ha’ moment, and celebrate with them when they take the next step, find the words they are looking for, or move out of their comfort zone and try something new.
Creating connections by being approachable, is a superpower which benefits me as well as others. I am enriched by feeling useful, especially when someone gets excited that I understood what they meant, even when their words did not convey everything they wanted to say.
“I work with people of all abilities to help them find their voice, reach their fullest potential and be encouraged to find a flicker of hope in the tough times of life.” This mission statement came out of realizing the strength or super power that is an integral part of who I am – my ability of connecting with others through both verbal and non-verbal communication.
Written by: Carol Harrison