SerenDestiny® #49: Who is your Mr. Bowers? Who Saw and Supported Your Potential?

“Teachers affect eternity; who knows where their influence will end?” – Henry F. Emerson

Many SerenDestineers tell me they are eternally grateful to an influential teacher who set them on their path.

This teacher may have given them a passion for a topic and encouraged them in their career field, fueled their entrepreneurial dreams, written a job-winning reference letter, pulled them aside to tell them they were not living up to their potential, or contributed to their growing sense of self worth.

For me, that person was Mr. Bowers.

I grew up in a small town in Southern California. And when I say small town, I mean small town.

We had about 1000 people spread out over New Cuyama Valley which had more horses than people and was nestled in a triangle of mountains between Ojai, Santa Maria and Taft/Bakesfield.

I was a young girl on a mission – full of fire and big dreams – so I ran for student body president.

Even though we had less than 200 kids in our entire school (kindergarten to 8th grade); this was serious business so I made posters and campaigned like Reese Witherspoon in the movie Election.

The morning of the big day came and my opponent, a cute jock, passed out bubble gum at the “polls” to entice students to vote for him. (No voting laws for elementary schools in the 60’s.)

He won by 1 vote.

Even though this wasn’t world peace, I was devastated.

That year, as it is for a lot of teens, was challenging as I struggled with peer pressure and being bright, but not so popular. I was trying to figure out who I was – me with my big ideas and nowhere to run with them.

A bit of consolation came my way when I was asked to be Class Valedictorian (fancy name for a 8th grade graduation talk … but you take what you can get in a small town).

Little did I know my SerenDestiny® was going to get a boost that day.

While walking to the auditorium for the ceremonies, our school librarian Mr. Bowers pulled me aside, handed me a manila envelope and said with a warm smile, “Open this when you get home.”

Imagine how honored I felt when I opened his envelope later than night and discovered Mr. Bowers had etched a pen and ink drawing of a proud mustang standing on a bluff overlooking a herd of horses grazing on the plain below.

In the accompanying poem, Mr. Bowers (who knew I rode horses) said I was a “mustang” and that mustangs go with the herd when they want, but are equally comfortable leaving the herd and going their own way if the herd tries to take them somewhere they don’t want to go.

What a gift he gave me.

Mr. Bowers’ thoughtful poem and drawing helped me believe that maybe, just maybe, I had something to offer. He gave me a name for what I was feeling; an identity for who I was.

His message was, “Mustangs may be part of the crowd but they don’t follow the crowd. And, if the crowd’s behavior is not congruent with who they want to be or where they want to go .. . mustangs either lead the crowd in a new direction or they create their own crowd.”

I’ve come to discover that being a mustang is a hallmark characteristic of many SerenDestineers. (More on that in my upcoming book).

Would you call yourself a mustang? Are you following the crowd, leading the crowd or creating your own crowd? How so?

And … who was your Mr. Bowers?

Who was a teacher who SAW your potential? A mentor who nurtured your leadership? Who reached out to you at a fragile time and gifted you with a name for who you are, a belief you had something to offer?

Have you thanked that person for their pivotal role in setting your SerenDestiny® in motion?

And one final question for today … are you a Mr. Bowers? Who have you mentored? Whose potential have you seen? How have you reached out to that person to let them know you believe in them?

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