Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of The Girl Scouts of America and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient is my friend, hero, and mentor, and I was fortunate enough to celebrate her birthday with her this past weekend with many of her dearest friends in her home town of Easton, Pennsylvania.
We enjoyed a wonderful evening and we were asked to share something about Frances. For instance, how she has influenced us, what she has taught us, any special stories we might have about her. I shared that Frances shows me by who she is and how she acts how to be aligned in my actions and my words. She shows me what it looks like when someone means what they say and says what they mean.
What I didn’t share was how Frances became my mentor. I’ll share it now.
Years ago, I knew of Frances, had spent some time with her, and though I didn’t know her as well as I do now, I already respected her immensely. At the time, I was going through a difficult situation and as I walked through it, I would focus on Frances’s words and kindnesses to me, and tried to be as she showed me to be.
One day, a particularly bad day, I was faced with a difficult, practically incomparable decision to continue or end the situation. Continuing it meant picking up the phone and reaching out to the person involved to work it out, again, for this wouldn’t have been the first time certainly.
I thought ending it meant not reaching out. I reflected on reaching out or not reaching out for some time and then a thought came to me. ‘Let go the past and reach out to Frances and ask her to be my mentor.’ That was the crossroad – keep doing things the same old way, or reach out for something else.
I’m not really sure where the thought came from, but I did it. I let go of trying to fix what couldn’t be fixed and reached out to Frances. Frances Hesselbein, whose battle cries are “To Serve Is To Live” and “Bright Future!” picked up the phone as if she’d been waiting for my call. I asked her if she would be my mentor and she said, “Yes! I would be honored.” We chatted and she gave me a little “to do” before our next call.
And, that was the day I made the choice to stop trying to fix what never seemed to work and to take a chance on a different path.
So far so good! It’s been many years now and Frances has taught me so much already. In the way she is, in the words she uses, and in the choices she makes, she shows me what a great leader and loving human being looks like. She is a wonderful mentor and friend of the heart.
Have there been times when you have been at a crossroads? What choice did you make? How did it change your life?
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Our new book Work Is Love Made Visible was published Tuesday, October 23, 2018!
Work Is Love Made Visible is a compilation book with about 30 essays about the power of finding your purpose and taking action on it from some of the world’s greatest thought leaders. It’s edited by my friend, hero, and mentor Frances Hesselbein (former CEO of The Girl Scouts of America and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient), #1 Leadership Thinker and NYT best-selling author Marshall Goldsmith, and me and I am thrilled that it is finally available to everyone!