“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
You’ve probably seen memes of Fredrick Nietzsche’s inspiring quote as often as you’ve seen episodes of Game of Thrones, but have you also seen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s, Message from the Future?
If not, I recommend you watch it … before re-watching another episode of GOT.
Having watched AOC’s Message From the Future; however, she may just be the equivalent of a woman dancing to music other’s can’t hear… or are unwilling to?
Whether you hear the particular tune Ocasio Cortez is dancing to or not, she is a brilliant example of the bravery, courage and vulnerability required to shake things up, and make needed change.
She’s not alone.
Millions of brave women like her, political and not, are shaking and rumbling in their communities, businesses, and around the world.
Which has inspired me, and why I became a mentor.
While on Instagram earlier this year, I noticed a past co-worker’s feed filled with captivating images of Hawaii and an uplifting Aloha vibe. Juxtaposed were messages of the ecological mess and ethically irresponsible business of the fast fashion industry, peppered throughout her wall.
Clicking to her website, I learned she had designed an Eco-friendly, ethically made bathrobe as a means to educate consumers about the dirty business of fast fashion, become a member of the #fashionrevolution (calling for transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry), and use a portion of her proceeds to give back to environmentally and socially engaged non-profits.
Next thing I knew I was shooting her a private message, sending her a “high-five” emoji, and offering to help.
So began my mentoring of one young woman who heard the music, and started dancing!
Here are four of my unexpected discoveries.
Discovery #1: We Need Them More Than They Need Us
It was Gandhi and his Satyagraha, or truth movement, which held this context that “we need them more than they need us;” a radical kind of music which that non-violent rebellion heard, and in time, rocked a nation.
This passionate younger generation of today (and my woman friend), has their new music, their mojo is workin’, and nothing is going to stand in their way.
Gandhi’s words have served to remind me that we can’t go it alone; we need mentors and mentors need us. We are each participate in shaping the future we imagine our grandchildren will want to live.
Discovery #2: It’s About Context
You, me, and everyone has had the mutually gratifying experience of being the giver, and the receiver of a no-strings-attached gift.
We’ve also been on the slippery slope of “giving” when self-deprecation or the subtle , and not so subtle, “something in return” is our motive.
In his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, author Adam Grant had this to say about context and giving: “…and when participants read poems aloud until their voices were hoarse, they had no trouble complaining about the task. And when they complained, they didn’t sound hoarse anymore. According to Langer [researcher], they weren’t faking it. Rather, the change of context brought renewed energy.
For me (and maybe you, too), there have been times I’ve given my time, expertise, or wisdom purely to shine a light on others greatness or empower another to find their voice and their groove, and it’s enlivened me!
And there have been times I’ve given for other motives, like recognition, or approval, and I’ve felt diminished in some way, or icky.
In the process, I’ve found that there is no “right way” to give; there’s no moral high ground or the perfect way to be a mentor or a giver (or perfect anything, but that’s a topic for another article).
We are complicated, and every situation is different, so in my view, both motives can and often do, co-exist.
When we feel the desire to give, I say we go for it… within our means, that is… and we’ll learn by doing how it is that context is everything!
Discovery #3: Give it and Let it Go
Through the give and take of ideas, then stepping back to watch this young woman use what works for her, toss what doesn’t and tackle each challenge her own way, has been a delight and a process that has energized me and filled me with a sense of lasting value.
In the end, our worth isn’t going to be measured by the knowledge we amassed, or money we made, …or the stuff we have, but by how much we cared and what we gave when we were able.
Give it, and let it go!
Discovery #4: We Will be Whatever We Have the Courage to See!
I had no idea when I heard the call to mentor and said, yes to someone I love, doing something I admire, that I’d be the benefactor of her bravery and tenacity. And if Ocasio Cortez is right when she says, “…We will be whatever we have the courage to see,” I’ll be changed by what I see.