73 – March 14
“None of us has gotten where we are solely by pulling ourselves up from our own bootstraps. We got here because somebody bent down and helped us.”—Thurgood Marshall
It was December of 1988 and I had just lost the major client of my business management firm. I was struggling with debt, with bills I couldn’t pay, trying to get more business and keep the doors open. My friend, Sharlee Bishin, called me up and asked me if I had seen the article in the paper about the new pilot program the Small Business Administration was starting up called the “Women’s Network of Entrepreneurial Training” or WNET. They had enlisted twelve successful women business owners in California to act as mentors to other women and they were taking applications from potential mentees.
I had seen the article and had even cut it out and put it on my desk, but hadn’t done anything about it. When I told her that, Sharlee just about leapt through the phone. She said, “This is perfect for you and with what you’re going through, you have to apply for this program. You could get matched up with somebody like Patty DeDominic, who runs a multi-million dollar employment agency here in Los Angeles and was mentioned in the article!” I had had the instinct myself that this would be a good program for me, but I just hadn’t taken action. Sharlee gave me just the push I needed to take the time to fill out the application and send it in.
Three weeks passed, and I forgot about it until one afternoon when I got a call from an SBA representative. She told me, “We’ve got a mentor for you.” I was delighted. “Who?” I asked. And she said, “Patty DeDominic!” The synchronicity floored me—I knew this was meant to be and was going to be great.
Patty was incredible. We hit it off immediately the first time we met. When I told her of my recent problems, she told me about the time she had a cash flow crunch early in her career and wasn’t going to be able to make the payroll for all her temporary employees. When the bank turned her down for a loan, she ended up borrowing the money from her accountant. But she weathered the storm, and here she was, one of the most successful women entrepreneurs in the country. She had overcome obstacles and she believed I could, too.
We worked together over the next year, meeting once every three or four weeks, and talking on the phone regularly. She opened her business, her home, and her heart to me and her faith and sound advice were a lifeline I clung to during some of my darkest hours. Much of what I know about successful business practices, I learned from her. Patty Dolphin DeDominic.
Have a mentor? Write them a thank you letter today. Don’t have one? Get one. Then be one.
“I surround myself with supportive, loving friends and mentors.”
Mentoring others is such a great pleasure that many people do it for a living: teachers, sports coaches, life coaches, business coaches, therapists, team leaders, self-help authors, public speakers, school counselors. There are people who devote a lot of time, energy, and money helping others through philanthropic organizations and charity work. There are also people who are unofficial helpers – they live their lives as an example that anyone can follow.
Whether for pay or for free, there is wonderful food for the soul in helping another human being. What Dolphins know – that Sharks and Tuna don’t – is that when the person you’ve helped succeeds, when they win big, when they have a richer, fuller, happier life because of you, you benefit even more than they do. You feel even more thrilled for them than if it had happened to you. You can accomplish wonderful things and have great successes on your own, but when you help others feast at that table, you are unlimited in the successes you can experience.
Do you see how that can magnify a person’s happiness a zillionfold? It is this quality of joy in being of service that distinguishes Dolphins.
It doesn’t mean that being mentored is all sweetness and light and compliments. Dolphins will give you the great gift of telling you the truth. You can trust what they say and benefit from their wisdom. Don’t ask them for feedback unless you want to hear it. Their criticism may sting a bit, but you know they are right. If you follow their advice, you will improve your life.
Some people might think that Simon Cowell, the acerbic judge on the television show, American Idol, is a Shark because he gave such pointed, withering criticisms to some of the singer-contestants. I consider him a Dolphin. Dolphins can be tough, but they do it for your own good. I winced over some of his criticisms when they seemed particularly harsh, but the contestants took that risk when they signed up to participate in the show. If they are bad singers, they should know better, but if they didn’t before, they will now. If they are good singers making mistakes, they will learn from him and improve. Besides, Simon’s tough personality and witty remarks were part of why the show was such a success. He knew that, and gave the audience—and his fellow investors, backers, producers, and the television station—what they wanted. It worked for everyone on whatever level they were playing the game.
I think some of the celebrities we see crash and burn in the media are people without good mentor-critics. They aren’t getting the advice they need to manage their lives in a happy, constructive manner. Because they are famous and rich, they have the ability to surround themselves with “yes people” whose income depends on their being complimentary and agreeable. That creates a bubble of illusion, making the celebrity think they are fine when they’re not. Where are they going to hear the truth that they need to change and grow? Who can they trust?
Who to you trust? Who are the Dolphins in your life? Who are your mentors and supporters? Who can you count on for an uplifting word of encouragement, good advice, or a safe haven from the storms that batter your ships? Who are the clients, bosses or partners that praise you and pay you? Who do you trust completely, unquestioningly, to hold your highest good in their heart and tell you the truth when it’s tough but you need to hear it in order to grow?
These are your Dolphins. They are Your People. Keep them close and learn from them. Then be a Dolphin Mentor yourself. That’s the Circle of Dolphin Life.