When I was 16 years old, my father, who had a 9th grade education, asked me what I wanted to do with my life.  I responded that I wanted to be a tap dancer on Broadway (quite an aspiration for a young girl from Waco, TX.)  Rather than offer what would have been more “logical advice,” such as:

“Are you crazy? “

“Do you know how hard it is to get to New York, much less succeed on Broadway? You’ll starve your first year!”

“What makes you think that 10 years of tap dance lessons qualify you to be a Broadway star?”

“And what about your chances of finding a husband/having kids if you pursue a career as a tap dancer?”

While I am confident that all of these responses were on the tip of his tongue, he uttered none of them.  Instead, he said, simply,”If you want to be a tap dancer on Broadway, you’ll be the best one they’ve ever had!”

Now he and I were probably both relieved when I came to my own conclusion that Broadway was not my destiny.  But that’s just it, he waited for me to make this discovery on my own, rather than spend the rest of my years wondering if I ever could have really made it as a tap dancer.

Just as important, his message left me with the belief that I could do anything I set my mind to.  You see, his “mentoring” came in 1958, when a woman wanting to do anything she set her mind to was not a readily available option.  However, with the belief firmly engraved in my mind that I could do anything, I started my first business (in Washington, D.C., where I wound up after graduating from Baylor) in 1972, my second business in 1974, my third business in 1986, and my fourth business in 1998.  My first book was published when I was 61, my second book was published when I was 64, and I am starting on my “next career” as Market Director in Dallas for MWN at the ripe young age of 73.

And I suspect I’m not done yet.

All of this was made possible because of a father who had the courage to be a mentor instead of a judge those many decades ago.

A mentor often sees what the mentee cannot -and has the courage to paint a picture of possibility.

Thanks, Dad.

Dottie Gandy

A native Texan with a degree in Communications from Baylor University, Dottie’s background includes highly successful careers as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, author, speaker and facilitator. She has recently accepted the position of Market Director in Dallas for the Mentoring Women’s Network. A long time supporter of women in business, she is a co-founder of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

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