Is Anyone Reading This?

One of the things I do is take notes for meetings at work. Thanks to learning how to type when I was a young age (love you mom!) I’m reasonably good at this part of the job. After the meeting I’ll send the notes out to the team.

We’ve been so busy recently I wondered if people were actually getting to the end of my notes and reading them. So, yesterday I included the following:

I had Wheaties this morning.  It’s the breakfast of champions and this project deserves champion level effort.  

Within just a few minutes, one of the team members wrote me back to let me know that she appreciates my dedication to the project as expressed by adjusting my eating habits.

What a simple thing to a say, and what wonderful emotions came from reading it!

There actually is a greater lesson in this!

Photo by bruce mars on

One way to set up a collaborative conversation (one where both parties feel they walked away better than when they started) is to think of each opportunity to speak as a vessel that needs to be filled with the other’s thoughts.

While done humorously in my situation, that’s essentially what I was doing for this brief conversation at the end of my notes.

Recently I posted about the need for collaboration not confrontation, but knowing a few snippets on how to set up a collaborative conversation can be helpful. It’s not about you hitting the home run comment. It’s about you setting up the other person to contribute.

Oh, and I got the answer I was looking for. Someone was reading!

Dear Ireland

I have a reader in Ireland! How do I know? Very few people read this blog. And, while I am casually trying to increase readership, I’m very grateful for the size of the audience who reads my posts. They’re pretty forgiving. My proofreading isn’t always the best and there’s few consistencies in what I post.

Typical Blog stats with an abnormally popular day

With the small blog audience there can be a sense of intimacy. I’ve had many of the handful of readers let me know which posts they like either via an in-person chat or a phone call. I was quite surprised when one of my coworkers approached me about a post she liked. While I do connect most posts to LinkedIn, I didn’t realize that there was anyone at work who was looking.

Someone in Ireland is looking and it just warms my day when they do! We went there once on a family vacation. It was one of those vacations to escape from a crushing weight at work and being that far away in someplace green and beautiful was quite important for my mental health. We stayed at a lovely AirBnB farmhouse that was absolutely ideal for our family. A horse on the property needed to get exercised, so my youngest daughter got to ride the horse while it did laps.

The farm specialized in birthing milk cows and the milk ended up in the Kerry Gold dairy products line–which we love! There was also a litter of cats born while we were there and my kids got to name them.

We have great memories from that trip.

I’d like to think that the family who opened up their (spare) house cared enough about our family to stay in touch by reading my blog. They were sweet, kind, and we instantly hit it off. I’d like to think that it’s them, but it doesn’t have to be.

Regular readers will note that the url for the blog recently changed from to As an early adopter of the internet I’ve always been fascinated by the connectivity it offers. Even if it’s not the family in Ireland that helped us have one of the best family vacations ever, knowing someone is there reading helps me remember how powerful the tools we have are.

While I may not be as good at proofreading as some readers might prefer, I’m good enough that a few people in the world have noticed and that’s a few more than I could have ever engaged with 30 years ago.

Mispronunciation and Mentorship

I have a non traditional passion for language.  I love the shapes of letters and the obscure words of the English language.  On Tuesday I read the Anatoly Liberman‘s etymology blog on the Oxford University Press’ website.  On Friday this blog is used to highlight fonts.  English is wonderful.  It’s wrinkles are well earned and from this author, they are well loved.

Each day we read scriptures together as a family.  We have four kids ranging from 17 (happy birthday Eliza!) down to 9.  This means we have a lot of different reading abilities.  Even among the older kids.  The language of the scriptures are wonderful.  The vocabulary is generally older than other English texts and it includes a lot of words adopted from it’s original Greek, Hebrew, and Reformed Egyptian.  This means there are a lot of unfamiliar words and mispronunciations are prone to happen.

Because of my love for the wrinkles of the language I tend to be pretty good at pronouncing some of the more difficult names and words.  When opportunities emerge to lovingly correct my children I’ve noticed I have one daughter who will apply my prompting for a better pronunciation as an opportunity to learn that pronunciation.  She usually succeeds.

The other will use my reading of the word as an opportunity to avoid the challenge of learning the hard word.  Once it’s spoken (doesn’t matter by whom), she moves on.  It’s as though she sees the goal to be having it spoken once in the setting as if there was someone recording our reading.  But home is not a place for perfect recitation.   There’s no one here recording us.  It’s just us.  It’s a place of learning.

Both of these habits are illustrative of larger lessons in life.

When my one daughter prefers to move on instead of trying the word herself I feel she’s missing out on an opportunity to learn.  On the other hand, her sister is significantly more apt to learn new words at a faster pace because she’s willing to experiment until she gets it correct.

What’s the larger lesson for this in life?

brown book pageWe often find ourselves doing things outside our comfort zone.  In some of these cases we have live mentors physically present.  In others our mentors are the written or spoken records left behind.  When our mentors are present we often don’t want to disappoint.  We want to demonstrate that a certain task can be done, but we don’t always want to show our struggle to get to that point.  Mentors are more than managers we report to when the task is done.  Mentors are those that help us learn to master the task.


How you feel around your mentors demonstrates how you feel about them.  If you find yourself apt to practice applying their teaching then you see them as a mentor.  If you find yourself focused on the finished product then you’re seeing your mentor more as a manager.

Mentorship is about helping others through journeys great and small.  Lessons are found in accomplishing the great tasks of life or even the small ones like learning a better pronunciation.