Songwriter/Designer Dawn Carroll wrote the song Over My Shoulder with Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens and Barry Orms. It was first sung as a duet sung by Grammy Award winning singing legend Patti Austin and the then 13-year old Lianna Gutierrez who is generating an amazing buzz as a protégé and mentee of Patti Austin. Dawn is leading the Over My Shoulder Foundation, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.
The Similarities Between a Designer and a Mentor
As designers we recognize potential the second we enter a new space. With confidence we understand exactly what we can make a room…become. “What do you see that I can be?” is what a spiritless space will ask us. “What am I missing that will make me be complete?” is the question it begs us to answer. I’ve come to understand the many similarities between a designer and a mentor.
As we begin our design work, we listen to the dream then we create a set of blueprints. We assemble a professional creative team and then we begin to navigate. We take the underdeveloped space and guide it to greatness. We constantly recalibrate and engineer our decisions with our trusted team and with tender care we begin to unlock a room’s potential, eliminating all evidence of emptiness. We strip away the confusion, scrub away the errors and the deprived atmosphere suddenly evaporates. With the very best of our efforts we influence the space to become dazzling. Under our talented watch, a productive, enthusiastic personality emerges and this space begins to ooze confidence.
Design for Confidence
The basis of any “good” is smart, high-performance design and there is nothing like a blank canvas to stir our imaginations. As designers our creative minds are always on the hunt for the new and the advanced. As cutting edge designers, we know exactly the moment when we’ve seen the future – be it a product, color or trend. We pride ourselves at being one of the first to predict the new look and with our influence, we can tailor and elevate a gloomy, pointless room into a mesmerizing, coordinated successful room that resonates with the air of all that is classy, distinctive, sophisticated and sleek. If we are very lucky, award-winning.
Design for Wholesome Living
We mentor rooms to become the essential ingredient to happy and healthy homes – custom tailored nurturing spaces that weave old-fashioned goodness back into our modern lives while instilling hope and promise into our futures. Each of us, in all walks of life, has this capability for design. It can be for beautiful rooms, flashy fashion, brilliant technology or perhaps most importantly, designing flourishing people.
Design for Mentorology
On behalf of the Over My Shoulder Project, I would like to introduce to you to Mentorology, the art of mentoring. When we meet a new person that has the same vision and imagination that we use in our design careers, the art of mentoring teaches us to instinctively engage and ask: “How can I help design this person to be high-performance? How can I help design this person to become solid enough to last a lifetime?” We should ask ourselves, “What do I see that this person can be?”
This is Mentorology, the art of mentoring. Mentorology designs the next generation by recognizing there is something special about every individual we encounter. It is our job, or, as a wise woman once said to me, “It’s our rent in this life to monitor, mentor and design smart minded individuals. Our job in this life is to assist, advise, and solve challenges to help create healthy people.”
When we mentor we get something mind-blowing in return, something that offers a lifetime of satisfaction. That something is a privileged and prideful glow that comes from knowing we’ve made a difference in another person’s life. That one thing we might say or do could awaken a spirit, inject some wisdom, breed some self-worth and offer nutritional value to our well-being.
Sometimes the smallest comment can stretch a mind so far that a glorious chance or stunning opportunity not previously seen unveils itself. Sometimes you just need an angel to unleash your creativity, a person who can reignite your passion, reconnect you with your dreams and help you redesign your individual space.
The Mentoring Palette
A mentoring palette looks something like this: wisdom, esteem, confidence, worth and knowledge. Mentorology destroys the myth that mentoring is complicated when, in fact, it is primitive. Once upon a time we were people who belonged to a close-knit village. We were members of a productive loving tribe. Once upon a time the elders all took a mentoring role and each child became their own. Each child was an apprentice and learned essential life skills as well as a trade and as that child grew the elders knew that these same children would become their caregivers. This natural cross-generational mentoring was the norm.
Today our lives are often dictated by text messages, e-mails and conference calls. It is easy to feel unraveled and with our insane schedules, it is easy to slip through the cracks. The honest-to-goodness fact is that we will always need to give just as much as we need to receive. Mentoring knows no age and mentoring is the smartest investment we can make today for our tomorrow.
We CAN Design Thriving, Interwoven Lives Together
We can design the next generation. You can design the next you. We can design healthy and productive people just like we do every day for our clients as designers.
Mentorology asks you to look over your shoulder and become the key to someone’s success. There is indeed a golden opportunity knocking on your door. Mentoring is no longer a benevolent gesture. It can become essential to your well-being. Your interest can design a change to provoke a positive difference in a person’s life.
Remember, mentoring knows no age. Whether older to younger or the other way around, mentoring returns all involved to a place of hope, simplicity and accomplishment through teamwork. Without support and emotional substance, without a positive influence in our lives, we become lost, disconnected and unstable, as individuals and as a society.
It is with these thoughts from my perspective as a designer, and my life-changing involvement with the magical song Over My Shoulder that I invite you to join me with Grammy Award winning singing legend Patti Austin and countless others who believe in the Over My Shoulder Project and the power of music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.