Have you thanked your mentor lately?

Remember to thank your mentorIf we are fortunate, mentors await us along our path, reaching out a hand to guide us when the road grows rocky or shining a light on the way ahead. Later our lives lead us miles and years from our own beginnings. In keeping our eyes on the path ahead, it’s easy sometimes to forget to look back and remember the ones who steadied our steps.

I received an email this week that reminded me how important it is to stop and look back, to recall our mentors and the difference they made to our work and our lives. The email was from my friend Ericka Gray, who shared with her colleagues reflections and memories on learning of the death of a champion of ADR and justice, whose wisdom and encouragement influenced the direction of Ericka’s own life. I thank Ericka for allowing me to share her message with a wider audience:

Dear friends and colleagues;

I just learned of the recent death of my first mentor in the field of ADR, retired judge Martin L. Haines. I wanted to share my knowledge of him with you.

He taught me to always challenge the status quo when the status quo wasn’t good enough and to always question things that I thought needed questioning. At my interview to become the director of the 4th multi-door courthouse in the US, he asked me what I thought my job might be. I responded, after having listened to his ideas, that it was to challenge the court system to do better and to make people think about things differently. I was hired even though I wasn’t a lawyer, as the job supposedly required. After working for him for several months, I revisited the question of my job and told him I thought that it was my job to cause some sort of trouble at least weekly. He smiled, thought for a moment, and said that he was inclined to agree. His eyes sparkled as he added that he often caused trouble and it seemed that he had the most fun when he was doing so. Since he wrote many controversial decisions and was known to routinely be questioned by those above him, he truly enjoyed what he did! I resigned when he announced his retirement since I couldn’t imagine working there for anyone else.

Judge Haines was an incredible man who had the respect of all, even those who didn’t agree with him. He was truly a gentleman. I will miss him. He has left an indelible mark on my soul and encouraged my passion for pursuing justice in both process and outcome for all. I wish that you all could have known him.

Is there a mentor you’d like to thank? Let them know while there’s still time.

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