one person to tell you

“you can only tell who you are, if you have that one person to tell you.”

I would imagine the picture and saying is directed toward something romantic.


Think of this as a mentor. Or in the business world. And maybe even life in general … but I will talk business.

We all, no matter how good or bad we are, just don’t know who “we are” in our business lives when we begin. As a matter of fact I would guess that at each transition point in our business lives we don’t know exactly who “we are.”

And then one day you know.

And it’s not a light bulb going off.

And it’s not an epiphany.

And it’s not something that occurs by looking in the mirror.

Its words.

Not anything you can read but words you hear.

A mentor, someone you truly respect, says something.

We all need these words at some point in our lives. We would be silly to not think so.

Words are powerful. Words empower.


And words are a responsibility.

I got copied on an email today from a friend who was introducing me to a contact for my wacky global education initiative idea.

She called me a mentor.

It gave me pause.

Being a mentor is a responsibility. On many levels it is a responsibility but when I saw  the quote above I … well … paused a little. And thought.

As you mentor people choose your words wisely. For they can be road signs at crossroads in people’s lives.

Yeah. I know this now. And it is easy for me to type this now.

But. As I think of the hundreds of people I may have impacted as a manager, and sometimes as a mentor at the same time, I wonder if I truly recognized the responsibility all the time.

What I am sure of is I was blessed with incredible business, and I would imagine life, mentors throughout my life. Some made huge impacts and some made incremental but significant small moment impact.

Polly Goodrich-Reese

David Strauss (who I called coach)

I had 4 at one time in one place, all extremely different; all with one thought … make me the best person I could be: Charlie Calise, Steve Price, Beth Mack, Pat Madden

Jeff White

(there are others but the list could get long … as I said … I was very fortunate in the mentor department)

We all have at least one mentor in our lives. Or, let’s say I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least one.

And then at some point I would imagine I became a mentor to some people.

And I hope I did as well with that responsibility as the ones I had.

But. What I did learn.

All those people I listed above never wasted words. But they also told me things. And I would have never figured out who ‘I was’ without them telling me.

I guess the business point of this post is when you are a manager you can make an impact in many ways. But words.

Oh those little words.

Little words with big impact.

Weigh them carefully.

Because you may be “that one person to tell you” for someone and you want to get it right.

Because getting it wrong  … is … well … anyway … just avoid it.

Written by Bruce