My grandmother was my hero. As a child, she was my best friend, and to this day she remains my mentor, teacher, role model, and the wisest person I’ve ever known. Although she died in 1980, her influence on me remains strong, and I feel her presence every day.

I was cleaning my desk this morning and found a letter she wrote to me when I began my first professional job as a high school teacher. It seemed fitting that as I write about leadership and the ICF Global Board, that I let her write today’s blog. Her perspective is timeless, and her wisdom profound.

It’s a long letter, and I’ll divide it into two blogs – one for today, one for tomorrow. I hope you enjoy.

My Darling:

It is not every day, nor every week, nor every moth, nor every year that I write you a serious letter. But what I have to say you already know as well, if not better than I. It is much easier to write it than to say it. The spoken word can never be recalled – the written letter can be thrown into the wastebasket and forgotten. It does not even require that you read it. But here goes!

Start your new job with confidence, determined to work conscientiously, which I know you have always done with every responsibility you have assumed. Put your duty before any of the lesser and perhaps more attractive activities that ten to distract and detract from your performance. 

I have always considered a job an honor, which you can develop to your own, and your employer’s benefit and profit.

Work with peace, the basis of which is good organization and patience. Avoid contradicting your associates, telling them how to do things your way. Let them learn on their own.

When they ask for advice or opinions is the time to answer them being miserly in dispensing such wisdom. I have always found the smartest answer in dealing with the public is “I don’t know”. The truth is, is that they have the best answers within themselves. If you listen and ask a key question, you can help them to access those answers. 

It seems that my grandmother, who was born in 1888, was a coach long before ICF!

Thank you for letting me introduce you to my grandmother. You would have liked her.

If you are an ICF member, please be sure to vote for this year’s ICF Global Board of Directors. I am pleased to be one of six who have been nominated, and hope to be elected as one of your Board members.