As I sit and reflect on what mentoring means to me, I realize that words of wisdom come in all shapes and sizes, and from many who will cross your path. Many times you won’t recognize the value of mentoring until long after you’ve received it. Through mentoring, I’ve learned four valuable life lessons that have carried me through the years of my career.

Be true to yourself. Find your passion, find what drives you, and incorporate that into everything you do. I attended school to become an elementary school teacher, and while I have not taught in the school system, I’ve stayed true to that profession in every role that I’ve had. I’ve held positions where teaching others became an important aspect of the job.

Staying true to myself enabled me to fulfill my passion to teach while being in a corporate setting.

Everything has a lesson. In the best of times and the worst of times, learning occurs. I believe there is something to learn in everything you do. Thinking back on the wins and losses in my career has allowed me to focus and ask myself questions that helped me to continue to succeed, or pick myself up and move to the next venture. Every lesson learned prepares you to give and receive feedback, reflect on the moments to assess how it could have been done better or differently.

Go with the flow. You don’t have to swim upstream to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. Pay attention to your internal voice and your natural instincts. Since I never planned my career step by step, “going with the flow” presented opportunities that may not have happened if I had planned them. When you go with the flow, everything falls in sync. It helps you to become open to the opportunities that come your way and accepting of the things that pass you by.

Give back; energize others. Be the support for others. Lift as you climb. When the call comes, answer and give your time back to others and the words of wisdom that have been shared with you. Many lessons come from listening to the words of wisdom and advice given to you by others. It has been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, and wise people learn from other people’s mistakes. You never know when you become a mentor how your experiences and guidance will touch the lives of others.