As a parent and a professional, the back to school time of the year is always an interesting one. The natural products industry experiences a resurgence, and our children are excited to rise to the next grade or phase of their education. Temperatures cool, days grow shorter, and this often leads to times of greater self-awareness and introspection.

This time of year always causes me to reflect on powerful life teachings that have helped shape my career and my existence as a conscious person in the world. I have been blessed to have many wise mentors in my life, all of whom have imbued me with powerful lessons. Here are a few that have stayed with me as the years have passed.

1. Change is the only constant. My first professional mentor once told me: “Business and life are fluid, and if you are not changing and growing, someone is passing you by.” Inherently, people are wired to have fear around change of any kind. If you approach the world as though what you are working on or feeling right now will change, it allows you to think ahead and plan for the unexpected. It also empowers you to act not from a place of anxiety but one of calm leadership.

2. Think upwards. One of the most powerful business women I know and have been blessed to work with in several roles once said to me: “You are thinking the way you did when you worked in one store, and you need to think beyond that – bigger picture.” Often, we get stuck where we were and do not grow into new roles when the time is upon us. These words always remind me that there is more, and the only way to help others find their more is to think upwards and help “turn on lights” for those around you.

3. Go with the flow to change the flow. Often, we find that the culture or tactics of an organization are frustrating, and it is easy to see all of the ways things could change for the better immediately. So, the logical mindset is, I am going to rebel and show everyone that this is not right and needs to change immediately! A wise mentor that I am fortunate to still work with every day once told me: “Use the culture against itself to create the positive results you are looking for within the parameters provided.” Simply put, you need not swim against the current to help the people around you see a better path. You can share information and knowledge in a way that helps others see a new light but does not forsake all that you mutually respect about the organization you are a part of.

4. Dare to be different. “Be yourself, and never be afraid to be different.” My first mentor, my wonderful mother, passed these words along to me for as long as I can remember. She instilled me with a mindset that continuously pushes me to think outside the proverbial box, both personally and professionally. Not being afraid to stray from the pack and allowing unique thoughts to percolate often leads to the brightest outcomes, especially when faced with a challenging business opportunity or a tough emotional dilemma. Thanks, Mom!

It is so important for each of us to pass our knowledge along and share it, so that we can continue the upwards spiral of human development. Whether the relationship is personal or professional, you can apply these basic tenets to encourage compassion, love, and understanding. Ultimately, that is what going back to school is all about, isn’t it?

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