Jogging through the woods I enjoyed the beauty of freshly fallen snow, with its’ deep silence, bright reflection and distinct crunchy sound underfoot. Still snowing, the winter landscape laid totally undisturbed except for a single line of footprints made by an earlier visitor. Thinking it safer, I decided to follow the trail of one who had gone before me.
Falling in a direct line, each imprint became a goal. With a fair space between it didn’t take too many failed attempts to realize that while I was a ‘jogger’ I was attempting to land in the path of a runner. Not as easy as it sounds as I had to consciously really stretch to increase my stride. It took effort to keep focus, matching footprint to footprint.
As I threw one leg out in front of the other, really going for the extension the Ah Ha! moment landed. Jogging has always been a bit of a conundrum for me. Even though frantically moving my legs as fast as I could, my speed never seemed to increase. My endurance but not my speed. (In fact, just to pass others out for a leisurely walk required a conscious effort.) But glory! Suddenly there I was flying through the winter landscape. As I stretched for the next footprint I naturally ran faster.
The footprints were teaching me. They were my mentor in the woods that morning. Isn’t that what mentoring is about? A mentor is one who has run before you. Having learned how to take bigger steps, he goes further and faster than before. When we ask for a mentor we are asking to be stretched. We agree to fall in and keep up the pace. Just by the very opportunity of matching, we learn as we go. Picking up speed, indeed, the very nature of the run demands that we learn in order not to be left behind.
The prints were clear and concise. As I made contact I felt the power of one who moves with confidence. A mentor is such a gift. A good mentor will not slow to match our pace but teach through example as we reach outwards, we achieve so much more. No different then myself, they too started with slower, smaller, more cautious movements. Only to discover that through consciously stretching themselves, accepting challenges, goal setting and focus their self-belief grew as did their ability.
If we just continue to do what we do, we don’t grow. Just like my frantically moving legs, we can end up exerting more effort than what is required, getting no where fast.
As I ran I felt like I was flying. I understood so much which previously seemed unattainable. As I ran I realized the next step in my work will stretch me, demand more focus but that just like my mysterious runner, I have the power. I am capable of flight.
This blog is one of those steps, a completed book another. Previously, having written many smaller pieces, taken little steps, I am now led to increase my focus, and stride outwards. Just like my jog that morning, I will be challenged to consciously stretch in order to reach the next footprint upon my path and in doing will learn and naturally improve my skills. The energy is not only in the effort but also in the flight as we commit to our paths we step more fully into our power. The lesson of the snow also showed me that a committed step is safer than one of hesitance.
I will go as others have gone and although I do not have a mentor as such (though one wouldn’t go unwelcome), I am inspired by my lesson. There’s something about inspiration that really does move mountains.
Remember, mentors come in many forms, so keep an eye out for – footprints in the snow.