It was a bright and warm morning in Abuja and I woke up with a sense of clarity that I had not experienced in a long time. A particular name kept ringing in my head as I struggled to find a mentor and I knew it was time to take that bold step and re-define the next level. A few weeks before this particular morning, I had listened to Dr. Oby Ezekwesili in a conversation where she took time to expound on what she termed the C’s of leadership; Character, Competence and Capacity. It was such a life changing thought and I unconsciously started looking out for these features in my life and in the life of folks that I daily came across.
I had been in Abuja for less that a year and I knew it was about time I intentionally sought out a mentor that could provide mentoring for me in both the marketplace and in key aspects of my life. Armed with the new knowledge of the things to look out for and with the conviction that I had found the right mentor, I sent out that simple text message to someone that has been the best mentor a girl can ever ask for, in the past years. Aunty Betty Ugona is a kind lady with an amazing strength of character that is as obvious as it is contagious.
I had shortly gotten a job redeployment to Abuja and was still settling into my new role when I heard about her for the first time. It was a conversation focused on name-checking folks that had the capacity to lead in the face of challenges and her name kept coming up in the room. On closer inquiry, I found out that she was in my then department but had recently gotten a promotion and moved to another division. I made a mental note to deliberately make her acquaintance and learn from her wealth of experience on the job. That simple decision and a subsequent embrace of Aunty Betty as a mentor, has not only been the best ever but has also seen me grow in life, purpose and grit.
Aunty Betty recently wrote her second book which she titled ‘Preferred Above My Peers’ and I had the pleasure of being amongst the early readers before the book launch. It was quite un-put-down-a-ble and I quickly devoured the book and made a summary of it. The book is divided into six chapters with the first touching deeply on kindness and care and how those qualities can attract attention and reward. It then moves on to the finer points of becoming indispensable which is a key outcome of being preferred and chosen. It deliciously moves on to a rather frank journey that urges one to make a choice to be preferred as it is a personal decision.
The market place is a clear field of play for individuals that wish to be preferred at all times. Aunty Betty’s book brings to focus, simple and do-it-yourself steps on how an individual can excel in the workplace as the preferred person and then extols the remarkable attitude of the preferred as being passionate, committed and focused in the course of play. It then closes with a rather ambitious charge that seeks to remind the preferred that he/she is a role model and should as such, walk the talk, at all times.
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There is an Aunty Betty in our lives that has been designed to not just be a mentor to us but also teach us how to lead by walking the talk. We might yet be struggling to identify this individual and we might have already identified one but would rather make the necessary first contact. It is in our interest to be quite deliberate and intentional about the people we allow to shape each and any aspect of us. When you allow someone to occupy the mentor space in your life, you unconsciously become inured to the failings of that individual. That an individual is your benefactor does not automatically qualify him/her as your mentor.
To get the best out of the mentor/mentee relationship, I will personally recommend that the currency of partial availability be embraced. A mentee that is always in a mentor’s face sees their fallibility and it ruins the experience. It is also important to understand that not every mentor material is your mentor. Be deliberate in making this decision. To choose a mentor is not something you do in a minute of excitement. Not every mentor material has been destined for you. Do not rush!
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Thank you so much Aunty Betty. You have been a mentor, sister, friend and colleague. You are a real life exhibition of excellence and purposeful dreams. Thank you for all the impact you have made in my life. I celebrate you.
Note: I truly thank everyone that have joined me on this weekly journey of chronicling some of my deepest thoughts. If you are new to the fun, please click here to enjoy the prior takes.