I had a major epiphany this morning while chatting with a recent University of Tampa graduate/absolute rising PR rockstar. I’ve recruited her to serve as co-chair of the PRSA Tampa Bay “New Professionals” committee, and I was talking with her about the many benefits of both PRSA and local chapter membership.
She mentioned having participated in a recent webinar that the Tampa Bay chapter had presented and how inspired she was to have been able to hear so many valuable tips and techniques from (in her words) “a woman of color in an important position.”
It took about an hour for the full impact of that statement to sink in. Not so much about the “woman of color” or “important position” pieces although they certainly are significant.
No. What hit me like a ton of bricks was the fact that an up-and-coming PR pro…a college student at the time of the event…was inspired by an experience made possible by a professional organization’s efforts to inform and educate its members.
You see…this is what we, the “experienced” generation, should be doing…inspiring by our acts and our words those who will ultimately replace…or possibly work with…us. We should be consciously asking ourselves, “What can I do or say that will encourage someone else to strive to achieve success?”
I know this sounds all hoity-toity, but to be perfectly honest, I have been walking on air since our chat because I’m seeing an example of what inspired me to make the public relations profession my life’s passion. And it reminds me that I still have this opportunity each and every day that I’m in the classroom sharing information and experience with young men and women who, like me so many years ago, are hoping to find inspiration in either their studies or in the interactions with faculty and others.
Our challenge…and opportunity…then is to consciously be looking for ways in which we can share our knowledge…our experience…our hopes and fears…our lessons learned…with those who are eager to soak in our wisdom. And this is the value that organizations like the Public Relations Society of America and so many others bring to the mix…the chance to interact with and learn from those who have succeeded.
“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.
The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”
Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet – On Teaching”