It is my honor to give the keynote speech for the CELEBRATING WOMEN LEADERS EVENT at Olivet College on Friday. The story of their all-inclusive college since its inception in 1844 inspired some thoughts on mentorship, which I'm sharing below...A gigantic THANK YOU to the brilliant hearts involved with the Women's Leadership Institute. Thank you for making the world a better place:
The relationship between education and mentorship goes far beyond the narrow connotations held between stereotypical school teacher and student, or professor and pupil. In its truest form, mentorship takes life’s most noble pursuit and acts as the key that turns one person’s powerful passion into a larger, even more profound purpose.
Beyond gender, race, sexuality and religion, every single human on earth is a student, a life-long learner. We are constantly sifting and sorting through life’s offering of people, places, things, experiences, information, in order to incessantly decide on what we like and don’t like, in fervent search of finding what lights us up, and thus, much more about who we are, inside. This search and revelation invites us into our heart space, wherein a deep, profound love and respect for ourselves, and what makes us unique, lies nestled beside the portal to the place at which we are all one.
Gathering information in order to find our personal passion—the ultimate education—is one of the quickest paths to the fundamental place of appreciation shared by all sentient beings. It is a noble pursuit leading to the place at which our “me” effects the “we.” For, once we learn about ourselves, learn to love ourselves, and what we love, we are able to take the components that we have used as life-long learners, adjust our orientation, and then offer what we know to those outside of us.
Being open and willing to take what we know and share it with others is one of the most generous things we could do for one another, for, this is mentorship. And the potential for mentorship is by no means limited to professor/pupil…we all are students of life. Therefore, we all have the potential to be mentors. Learning leads to passion, but teaching gives each passion an exponential purpose; a life in service of the greater good.
Inspiration rarely happens in a vacuum. It comes from being in the world, from seeing others that spark our interest—often those who remind us of ourselves, who share qualities and attributes to which we aspire. Inspiration comes from the diversity this beautiful existence puts forth. It’s time for those touched by what they have learned to step into themselves, to step up and step out as the knowledgeable, open-hearted mentors that we all have the opportunity to be.
Olivet College has a long, storied, beautifully rich history of inspiring and empowering young women, minorities and those often under-represented through education since 1844. They have understood the consummate value in investing, cultivating, and fostering our innate desire to learn; our fundamental role as life-long students.
The fact that Olivet College has heralded the importance of equal educational access to all genders, cultures and socio-economic levels since its inception, is the very reason Olivet still continues to be firmly affixed to the tectonic plates shifting into the future, on the leading edge of change. Institutions like this, built on the tenant that, “We are all in this together” allows for life-long learners to also extend their hand to their fellow man as role models. Education for humans, of all walks, helps humanity as a whole. Relationships are vital to our experience on earth, and as such, mentorship can spark the embers of collaboration among curious souls that then fan the flames of ingenuity, creativity and productivity, affecting change—like wildfire—around the world.
Through education we can change our “me.” And if we change our “me,” then we change our “we.” Now, it’s time to enter our hearts inside of us, lift our heads to those around us, and lend a hand to those next to us…For, Olivet has known long before other places have known, that together we rise…together we rise.
Polo REO Tate was born in Lansing, Michigan, where her family has deep ties to the community. Her Great Great Grandfather was Ransom Eli Olds (R.E. Olds), a pioneer and prolific inventor most notably responsible for inventing the first internal combustion automobile—the Oldsmobile. Growing up, [...]