I credit adhering to the Golden rule for my upward career path. Giving the same consideration to a janitor as you would to the CEO puts you on a path toward fair and equal treatment for all.

Several key individuals who invested their time and energy in me and who were there for me in times of self-doubt and uncertainty were another powerful influence. From those experiences, I concluded that mentoring should be a lifelong pursuit, not restricted to discrete moments in time.

When a waiter at a restaurant I used to visit was about to graduate from college, I offered to review his resume and role-play a mock interview with him to offer some feedback. We met at the college library, acted as though we were just being introduced, did the interview, and then talked through ways he could improve. Over the years I have conducted mock interviews with dozens of people and supervised many college students during internships required for social work degrees. I find that teaching others can be an effective way to cement lessons within yourself.

Being a mentor is my way of “paying it forward.” (Hollywood really messed up that concept!) I have been blessed with several important mentors. Every time I counsel someone, I do it in their honor. I challenge each person I mentor to do the same for others as a way of paying me back. I have received much more from others than i have been able to give, but it is a lifelong journey to try to even the score.

I also believe it’s vital to offer a solution anytime you report a problem or challenge. Imagine you are in charge, and brainstorm ideas for improvement. Create a work environment that encourages others to share their insights. And remember that every employee has a life at home that they are working to support. Acknowledging and respecting that will help you assure a proper balance for them.

As my final piece of advice, I offer three sentences that will free you as a professional: I am sorry. I made a mistake. if I could do it again, I would do it differently.