When I was a little girl my mom would sit me on the counter and let me bake with her, she would give me a cup of flour or sugar and let me carefully add it to the bowl. Sometimes, she’d give me my own bowl and let me concoct my own mixture. Of course it was never edible, but those are some of my favorite memories. Growing older is kind of like that. When you are younger, you don’t know how to read the recipes and so the outcome may not be the cake that rises correctly like your mom’s. But as years go by, you learn and by trial and error you hopefully (for your family’s sake) learn how to make a decent finished product.
When I helped to re-open a restaurant that we tried to salvage several years ago, I was training some kids working for us. The order was a hamburger and a hotdog. The young man working, put the hamburger and the hotdog on the grill to cook at the same time. I asked him, “What do you think is wrong with this picture?” He stared at the grill and couldn’t figure it out. So I said, “Think about the end result.” I could see the light bulb go off in his head and he answered. “Oh, the hotdog will finish first and will get cold before the hamburger is done.” Ding ding A+! It was not only a learning moment for him, but it made me realize that it is rewarding to help someone learn and see the light in their eyes when they figure it out.
Several months ago, I had a good friend at work approach me to complain about one of her co-workers who was brand spanking new. Not only was she young enough to be her own kid, she was fresh out of massage school. My friend had been out of school and doing AMAZING massages for well over a decade. I tried to share with her my hotdog hamburger story and she didn’t get it. So then I said, “think of it like this, You and I can serve Thanksgiving dinner to a large group of people, and by now, hopefully we have for the most part, figured out how to serve everything hot.” She nodded and I continued, “Soooo think of this girl, as if you are helping to teach her to serve her first Thanksgiving dinner, and take her under your wing and teach her how to serve it the same way you do.” I didn’t see the light in her eyes or that she fully understood me, but she graciously told me she’d try.
A few weeks later, my friend and that young girl stood with me as they waited for their next clients. And in front of my friend, that young girl gushed about how she (my friend who’d complained weeks earlier about this girl) was the most helpful teacher and how much she loved working with her! Later, I got a text from my friend saying: “I love your Thanksgiving Dinner scenario!”
My point is, that we need to realize where everyone is coming from. If someone needs mentoring, instead of gossiping and complaining about them, why not metaphorically speaking, teach them to throw the best dinner party ever? No one was perfect at their first job. Someone had to teach you. I’d rather be remembered as the one who taught many rather than discouraged even one.
I know that after ten years of working at the same place, and now after recently changing jobs, I’ve had to learn new things and am so grateful for my recent teachers and the ones along the way. But I am also learning that age is not such a bad thing, because we gather knowledge along the way and carry it with us as we go. Hopefully causing us to be better leaders and have compassion just remembering how we felt when we were younger. To not make someone feel bad about themselves but to help give them wings for their next step up. For how much better would it be to know you are remembered as a teacher rather than a bully? To remind those that they are smart and kind and important, a message that starts by letting someone add a cup of flour and then a cup of sugar, and slowly bake their own cakes someday.