“I have always maintained the importance of aunts.” Jane Austen
This past weekend, I was in Arizona to celebrate mom’s birthday.
Mom and I went to IHOP, eating blueberry pancakes for lunch. Later, we had dinner at Gekko Grill. Unexpectedly, my two nieces, who are 13 and 14, joined us. I asked them about what they love to do. They love learning languages on Duolingo, like Japanese and Russian. They write songs and sing; they want to visit Greece and Greenland. They were clever and winsome.
A few weeks before that, when I was in San Diego for work. One of my best friends, Kathleen, and I took my 23-year-old niece to dinner. She just graduated from college and is figuring out her next steps (she wanted us to dish on her mother, my sister Brooke––for example, we revealed that she was a boy magnet). On the cusp of her adult life, this niece is also a delightful human being.
I haven’t had a ton of interactions with my nieces. Distance plays a factor, but I now wonder why not have more.
This week, I’m celebrating with Scott Miller the launch of his second Master Mentors’ book and the people mentoring him. But I am also thinking about how within our own families, close to home, we have a huge mentorship opportunity if we will take it. I talk about nieces and an aunt because that’s my experience. I maintain the importance of uncles, too, and want to include nephews and uncles in whatever configuration your family comes in.
It would be easy to say that maybe my niece(s) and/or nephew(s) don’t want me to mentor them.
But I still talk about my Aunt Diane, my father’s older sister, and how she brought my sister and me into her home in southern California even when we were just nine and eight, respectively. When she came to New York on vacation, she took me out to lunch or dinner and encouraged me at the start of my Wall Street career.
I didn’t ask her to do any of this; she just did it. So, my note of appreciation today is to her, but my invitation to myself and you is, if you have nieces or nephews or both, don’t ask them if they want you to mentor them; start doing it in natural, informal ways. If you have a large extended family, you may need to choose a few from the many. On my side of the family, there are only five grandchildren, not including my kids.
Maybe your first thought will be like mine. “It doesn’t matter. They won’t care.” But Aunt Diane’s attention did matter to me. As a parent, it matters if there are aunts and uncles who take a genuine interest in my children.
I can be a mentor to my nieces and nephews, and you can mentor yours too.
This week’s podcast episode features Jesse Iwuji, a first-generation Nigerian American, U.S. Navy reserve officer, college football star, and an accomplished and beloved professional NASCAR driver.
How did he become a racing star? He just … wanted it. And one day, he decided to go for it. He’s so interesting! Enjoy!
What are your thoughts?
P.S. Today, I will be interviewing Seth Godin on LinkedIn LIVE at 12pm EST. Be sure to join us!