As we bring in a new year, many of us take time to reflect on the past year. I lost one of my primary mentors in life this holiday season. And as our teams gear up to launch the new FIRSTRobotics Competition season with Kickoff on January 5, I find myself in awe of the amazing people who take the time to mentor so many students.
Looking back at how much Gerry influenced my life for over 40 years, I realize what a treasure the mentors are as they come into our lives. Here are a few of the key lessons I learned from him, beginning in high school and throughout my life.
1) Always give your best effort.If something is worth doing, then putting in your best effort is the only path forward. To do otherwise is a waste of your time and the time of those around you.
2) Mistakes happen. What you do with them determines your progress.Mistakes are a part of life and learning. How we react to our mistakes makes a big difference in what happens next. Beating yourself up and focusing on missteps is not productive nor helpful. Rather, learn from them and move on.
3) Life isn't always fair - so what. It doesn't define who you are. How you react is more important.Sometimes the best talent doesn't get the reward. Sometimes your best efforts don't bring the prize home. At the end of time, who will really remember or care? What matters is what you do next.
4) Learning is a life-long project. Relish every minute!
5) Humor helps.Looking for the silver lining and finding the humor in everything helps ease the bumps in life. Learning how to laugh at your human foiblescan make any day brighter.
6) Love what you do and do it well.Even though my path didn't ultimately go quite the way we both anticipated, Gerry always let me know that my choices were the right ones as long as I was happy and fulfilled. That confidence and support have been invaluable throughout the years.
Who has been a mentor for you? Take a moment to think about the many ways all of your mentors have played a part in your life. And if they are still around, make the time to say thank you.
To all the mentors out there, know that you are making a difference. The students you impact may never have the opportunity to thank you for your time and dedication. They may not realize how much you have shaped their lives until much, much later. Your confidence in their ability to make decisions, learn from mistakes and to be good people is making a difference, each and every day. Thank you for all that you do!
Marie E. HopperPresident, FIRSTNorth Carolina
In loving memory of Gerry ZampinoClarinetist, Teacher, Mentor, Friend
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