Sorrow and Joy

I set out today with great expectations: a new microphone, a clear day, and thirty podcasts to record. Eight hours later, i had achieved virtually nothing. Having first cleared the dual hurdles of prevarication and delay, i recorded the first six, only to listen back to discover a terrible buzzing afflicting them half way through, ruining them all. So much for technology.

Sorrow and Joy

I felt ready to write the day off, when two things happened. One of sorrow, one of joy.

As regular readers will know, i’m proud to be a mentor with the Cherie Blair Foundation for women. It’s a global organisation that effects grass roots change, helping women to run their businesses better, by connecting them to mentors in the UK and US.

I always feel a bit of a fraud being a mentor with the programme, because i always have to start the year with a caveat. I have to say ‘i cannot help you write a business plan’, ‘i cannot help you do cost modelling’, because, to be honest, ‘i do not have any of your answers’. The best i can offer, as a mentor, is to make this part of the journey with you. You can share your moments of pride, of panic, of ambition, and i can hold open a space for us to do so. For me, mentoring is always a shared journey.

Today, a moment of sorrow. There is a shared community space for all mentors, and mentees, and a message came up today with the news that one of the alumni had been murdered by armed robbers. Both she, and her husband, has been killed, leaving two young children behind.

I feel sorrow writing this: the sharp perspective between my first world worries about my microphone, and the tragedy of two orphans.

But this is the world we live in: none of us can fix everything, but all of us can fix something. Some of us can give money, and some of us can give time. Some of us can share knowledge, resources, and effort, and some of us can listen kindly, offer support, and care. We are all part of one humanity, a shared humanity, and at the end of the day, you are either drawing down upon it, or contributing to it.

My day ended with joy. I started a new Mentoring relationship, i think my seventh with the Foundation. We met for the first time, with smiles, with stories, and with hope. There is nothing bigger than a conversation filled with hope. I think we are both excited for where the year will take us: perhaps not a journey filled with answers, but i suspect a journey of discovery for us both.

I am tired. It’s rare that i don’t write: writing is something i do every day, it’s part of who i am. But tired, sad, it’s easy to retreat from it. Those last smiles of the day reminded me that, even tired, i can share a story, and hope that it reaches one person.

Reach out. Reach out with hope, with support, with kindness. Not simply to those that you know, but into spaces beyond your everyday, beyond your experience. Reach out not to take, but to give. In the sure knowledge that Social Leaders gain the most, by giving the most away.

You can find out more about the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, and sign up to be a mentor, here.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Social Leadership and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sorrow and Joy

  1. sandy tranfaglia says:


  2. tutormentor1 says:

    I understand both the sadness and the joy. I led a youth tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975-2011. Too many times over the years I’ve received bad news similar to what you received today. On the other hand, I keep seeing posts on Facebook showing the successes my former students, and their own kids, keep having.

    Your encouragement to “Reach out. Reach out with hope, with support, with kindness. Not simply to those that you know, but into spaces beyond your everyday, beyond your experience. Reach out not to take, but to give.” is something i hope many will do.

    I started building a database of Chicago tutor and/or mentor programs in 1993 and update it annually, to help people connect with well known programs, and those who operate without much attention. That means anyone in the region can take your advice and point people to my list, or can do their own investigation, and point people to specific organizations throughout the Chicago region.

    If others build and maintain similar lists for other places in the world, they enable the same type of actions.

  3. Caroline Felce says:

    Humble and inspiring, so well said, I sometimes think I have nothing to give, but then providing someone with kindness and love is something (or everything) isnt it.


    Caroline Felce

  4. Nina says:

    Hi Julian, I agree that everybody can do something and we all should be more brave and bold to reach out, be vulnerable and share who we are. Those are the moments when others share back who they are. We should all get more behind those barriers of “look how great/successful/happy I am” and share when it’s not the case. Failure and sadness are part of the ride on the rollercoaster of life. but it always goes up after it went down. Hopefully the last turn is going up before we hop off. 🙂

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