Sunday, March 4, 2012

Tears & Leadership

I think that I have mentioned in another post that I am a mentor.  I visit with a little boy at his school once a week and we have been friends for over a year.  He's amazing and so full of potential.  I love talking with him.  We can talk for an entire hour.  We tell each other stories, brainstorm ideas, discuss the future and talk about our lives.  He also has some emotional issues and it is difficult for him to manage his feelings.  When I walked into his classroom last week, he was in tears.  It was a bad day.

I can't remember what I had planned for the two of us but it didn't matter.  He was in trouble and very, very unhappy.  We weren't allowed to leave his classroom so I pulled up a chair and sat with him as he cried.  After a few moments, I told him the only thing that felt natural, "I've missed you".  We started talking and he eventually stopped crying.  I gave him my undivided attention.  I listened to him talk, we discussed the inappropriateness of his earlier behaviors, role played ways he could have acted differently, worked on a math test and talked about animals.  I never let him off the hook when he misbehaves or manipulates situations.  I do remind him how smart he is, how compassionate he can be and how extremely creative he is. 

I don't know how long this boy will be a part of my life but I am appreciative of every moment.  I sincerely want the best for this child and I pray that he achieves lifelong success.  I've learned so much from him.  His raw emotion and tears of frustration foster my leadership capacity.  I can't plan the words that I say to him when he is upset, I just have to feel my way through.  I take a deep breath, give him my full attention and speak with authenticity and love.  I believe that those who exercise positive leadership must be authentic as well as compassionate.  These are qualities that allow us to do adaptive work, help others reach their full potential, find meaning in chaos and act as change agents.  This boy has taught me how to be in the here and now.  I will be forever grateful for our relationship.                  


  1. Oh, this made me cry. Thank you for giving your time to this little guy who so obviously just needs someone to care about him.

  2. Jaime, that was really beautiful. Children just need to feel loved, and worthy, and noticed. My husband is an elementary school counselor, and he really appreciates the mentors that have good relationships with children like the one you seem to have. Thanks for sharing that!

  3. Jo - I love meeting with him. If I'm out of sorts at all, he brings me back to reality.

    Judy - thank you. I also work with mentors and they are all so wonderful. When a girl found out she was getting matched with a mentor, she responded "Thank God. I really need someone".

  4. So awesome that you are authenic with this child. Children deserve so much more than they are often given. And sometimes children are treated as one big lump of clay instead of indiviual creations.

    A job well done--with this sweet boy and this inspirational post.


  5. That little guy is so lucky to have you as a friend!

    Thanks for the wonderful post.