The events in this blog post are factual.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent, as well as the guilty… And also, in case the real life Jerry reads it, to prevent the unfortunate side effect of pride – swollen head syndrome – from afflicting him.
Jerry is in retail management. Long hours. Moderate pay. Marked by demanding bosses, demanding employees, and demanding customers. This is not a glamorous job, but someone must do it. Jerry thinks he does a pretty good job.
He has strong opinions on just about everything – politics, religion, family life, and work ethic. He believes he (and those under him) get paid to do what they are told, when they are told to do it, and how they are told to do it. Neither Jerry nor his team get paid to complain, or argue, or even reason – execution is the goal.
If the powers that be decide they want the store to look like a cluttered, garage sale today; that is how Jerry will make it look. If, after Jerry has convinced all the nay-sayers the cluttered, garage sale look is in, the powers that be decide the store needs the clean, less is more look; Jerry will retrain his team to be sold out believers in the clean, less is more cult.
Why? Because the bottom line, core values of the retail company are: Respect, Service, and Excellence. So long as those three things are not compromised – everything else is negotiable.
Mary worked with Jerry for a few years. They were partners, working third shift. Mary is a working mother, a very busy woman. Torn between the demanding bosses, employees, customers on one hand – and her husband and children on the other.
Third shift does not afford much for relationships, so those that are committed to it are a tight knit group. Jerry and Mary became friends. They would share lunch and discuss life, dreams, and goals. Remember, Jerry has strong opinions on everything – sometimes sharing those opinions can cause friction. Mary may or may not have been offended by Jerry’s opinions, she kept her thoughts to herself. Eventually Jerry moved to another store, and they didn’t keep in touch.
She kept her thoughts to herself, until about five years after Jerry moved on. Then, because she was moving out-of-state – Mary decided she should call Jerry and tell him exactly what she thought of him.
She said something to this effect:
“Hi Jerry. This is Mary. I know it’s been years since we spoke. My husband just got a promotion so we are moving, and I didn’t want to leave town without telling you a few things… First, after working with you for so long and listening to you talk about your family – I have decided my children are worth more than my pay check so I am becoming a stay at home mother. Second, after listening to you talk about finances, I bought a book by a guy named Dave Ramsey and my husband and I have decided it is time we make good use of the money God has provided us. And – thirdly, after seeing your faith in action, we have found a church in our new city and are committing our lives back to God. I just thought you should know that you made a difference in my life.”
George was an assistant to Jerry for a few years. George was a pretty dedicated assistant. He had his quirks, but he also had a desire to succeed. George watched as Jerry demoted or (in some cases) fired other assistants that refused to do their jobs. George did not want to be in that number.
After a few years, George transferred to a larger store that offered more opportunity to advance. George left Jerry on less than ideal terms, but maintained a respect for Jerry and his strong opinions. George took a temporary assignment at a challenging store to show the powers that be that he is in fact ready for advancement. Jerry had spent a few months at the same store a year earlier, with much the same mission.
George was doing his time, trying to make a difference and give some direction that would help this store. A few of the employees told George what they needed to do was what Jerry had implemented when he was there. George didn’t think about the Jerry he knew until a few days later when the name was mentioned again… and then again. George finally asked, “You mean Jerry from that other store?”
“Yeah, that’s him. When he was here we did this, and that. And this wasn’t a problem because Jerry had us do it this way – you know, work it the way it is designed,” was the answer.
So George called Jerry and said something like this:
“Hey, Jerry – It’s George. I’m over here at this other store for a while, and I guess you were here a while back too. I know a lot of times people do things and don’t realize the effect they have on others – we usually hear the bad… So, I wanted to call to tell you that you sure did make a difference to several of these folks. They were telling me all about how you did this and that and made their jobs better — and I thought about what you’ve done for me and just want you to know I appreciate it and these folks appreciate it.”
Linda was looking for a job. She used to work for the company Jerry worked for. In fact, a couple of years after Jerry had moved on, she managed the same department he had. She had not met Jerry – there had been several managers over the department between them – but anytime she would do something or asked for help it seemed someone would say: “Well, Jerry did it this way.” or “Jerry would do this.” or “That’s not what Jerry did…” Linda learned a lot from Jerry during her time in that department.
But she had moved away, and was now coming back. She needed a job, so she called her old boss. “Sure, I have an opening,” he said, “I’ll have someone call you for an interview.”
A few days later a man called Linda to conduct a telephone interview. He introduced himself. Linda couldn’t believe it. “Jerry? Did you used to work in that department at that store?”
“Jerry! You were my silent mentor! Even years after you left they would tell me about you and I always tried to live up to the expectation they said you set. Wow! I always referred to you as my Silent Mentor.”
The Silent Mentor.
The point is not to make Jerry feel good – although, no doubt he felt like a rock star after getting these calls. The point is no matter what you are doing, you are being watched. So long as you have a job, or child, or walk outside to get the mail — someone is watching.
What will they see?
Something worth emulating? Or something humiliating?
Something elevating? Or something draining?
Romans 14:7, Matthew 5:16, Colossians 3:17 – and many more.
There is no doubt: You are a Silent Mentor.