For the past few days, I’ve been getting ready to give the keynote address at the University of Rhode Island. I’ve been asked to speak about women, mentorship, and leadership to a room full of people who, likely, have way more leadership experience and mentoring wisdom than I do!
But, as I struggled to write and attempt to sound impressively fantastic, I ended up deleting it all and writing one word: “JOLI.”
The truth is, Joli has demonstrated more leadership in her little life than I have in my entire thirty-something years. And, though I’m pretty hard on her, and could be a heck of a lot nicer to her most days, she reminds me of the kind of leader I hope to be: calm, compassionate, and people-first.
The other day, Joli got grounded for a week. Unfortunately, it’s school vacation week (bad timing, sister!), and she is required to go to bed at 7:00pm every night — before her 5-year old sister, before her 2-year old brother. Why did she get grounded? Because she stopped to pet a cat.
Now, as you can imagine, there is much more to this story. Or, maybe not. See, Joli is always the “slowpoke” in our family. Ask her to do something and maybe, just maybe, it’ll get done. Not because she’s stubborn, not because she’s rude or defiant. It’s simply because she stops to do something else. On this particular grounding-day, when my husband asked Joli to get inside the house because he was late for work, she stopped to pet a cat.
I totally understood why my husband was mad, though. Every day, we ask Joli to hurry up. Get moving. Stay focused. Get your shoes on Brush your teeth Pick up your clothes Eat your breakfast Grab your backpack Finish your homework GoGoGoGoGoGoGo.
“Joli, why the heck did you stop to pet a CAT?” I asked her, slightly annoyed because I felt like my husband was totally justified for grounding her.
“Because, Mom. I bet no one even told the cat today day that he was loved today.”
Joli is still grounded for the week and has been sent to bed at 7pm each night.
But, it really is Joli who keeps me grounded every day.
Peace, love, and seeking strength from even the youngest of mentors,