What is my why?

What is my why?

What is my why? That’s a question I ask myself a lot. Why am I here? Why do I do what I do? What is my purpose? What matters most? What can I do to make a bigger difference in people’s lives?

It’s been a useful motivator throughout my career and life.

It’s not like me to share this much. I tend to look forward and move on. But I believe my story could help 1 other person out there and I want to encourage others to share. Someone needs to know they aren’t alone, someone that needs to hear perspective, someone that needs support, someone who could offer support. So I am just accepting the discomfort this brings me.

I said goodbye to my Dad in late 2019 after a multi-year battle with Alzheimer’s. I was healing when March 2020 arrived. My 7 and 14yo daughters went through what most did. Closed schools, online learning, loss of social connection, cancelled events and trips, etc. Then the snares of social media, anxiety, depression and other unsettling family struggles. What can I do to support them emotionally, socially, academically, physically, spiritually? What can we learn from the suffering?


My daughters are my “why.”


My older daughter and I summited the highest CO “14er” in summer 2020. We did it, together. It helped to get deep into nature and have a big challenge to work towards. You can’t see from the picture, but she was entering a difficult phase of depression and anxiety. We accomplished our goal, literally one step at a time up the mountain. My hope is that it gave her confidence in herself.


Mountain Lessons


I hope we both remember the lessons from the mountain: Even when things get rough – and they will – keep your perspective on what’s important, see the beauty all around, lean on each other, encourage each other (sing silly songs when you can see the mountain summit but can’t take another step), and don’t give up.

At work, I felt a calling to immerse myself in taking a lead role in reducing burnout and increasing professional joy among clinicians. What was really going on, what might real solutions look like? I believed we could create joy at work, even during a global pandemic. If each of us has a calling, a purpose, then perhaps even in the worst of times we can be made to uncover joy at work and in life. Maybe it’s a huge opportunity to collectively reset and redesign our work. I appreciate this recent article, it resonates with how I see this: The Great Reset: A Collective Transition.

There were dark moments during the past 2 years that brought me to my knees. But here’s the thing. In those dark valleys I was able to find some peace, hope and joy. Ok, maybe not exactly in the moment but soon after!

Each moment offers a choice to crumble or grow.


It was time for a reset.


Fast forward to 2021. It’s hard to describe, but I began a “slow-motion leap of faith”. Picture that. Six months to make a change was too long, too wearing. I decided to make a purposeful pause in my career. I was questioning what really mattered most in life and if I was sharing my energy where it was most needed. My family needed me. My soul needed rest. It was time for a reset. I left a job I loved, work that was meaningful and colleagues I admired. It took courage to change my trajectory.

My daughters now 9 and 16 are doing better. They have learned a lot about life: self-love, kindness, acceptance, friendship, gravity, boundaries, goals, bullies, migraines, concussions, depression and anxiety. I’m so proud of them. I’m their mom, not their mentor. Or perhaps both? It does make me think about mentoring. What is a mentor anyways? As my friend #RichardLeider says, “Mentoring is about care, not cure.” It’s hard to not jump in and solve problems, especially when it’s your child. But that, at least for me, is the same with people. I just like to solve problems and make things better. But that isn’t what people usually want or need. I’ve learned that mentoring is really about CARING deeply, not curing all their ailments but rather guiding, supporting and listening. Sure as a mom I stepped in and got pretty involved in solving certain situations, but every single time I looked for the learning opportunity.

My daughters might have been listening and feeling the care. My younger one decided to make a podcast for other kids who are stressed and she shared how important it is to have a growth mindset! Amazing. She also became a Girl Scout, setting impressive goals and even meeting with a legislator recently!


That’s why I became a mentor.


These days I’m working alongside some incredibly talented and passionate people who share my passion for mentoring and bringing out potential in others. Mentors are needed more than ever, with so many of us facing extraordinary challenges and opportunities. I see the real difference the right mentor makes in someone’s life. That’s why I became a mentor, and jumped on the chance to become a formal cross-company mentor too.

There are so many people that need someone to listen, to care and show you things you wouldn’t know by yourself, but you have the ability to do.​ I encourage others to mentor and give back.

Hence a favorite quote “There is more in us than we know if we could be made to see it; perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.” ― Kurt Hahn (founder of #OutwardBound). Outward Bound changed my life for the better years ago and I embrace their principles in my life. I thank them for taking a lifelong love of looking at mountains to actually climbing them!

Oh, and in my spare time, I’m still climbing mountains! And yes I do try to get my family up some of them with me!

[Jennifer is a mentee alumna and current Menttium mentor. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a mentor, you can contact us or subscribe here for more information. https://www.menttium.com/become-a-mentor/ ]