• Debbie Platts

My First Mentor

I grew up in a pretty traditional family. My dad worked his way up the corporate ladder and my mom managed our home. Based on my dad’s business experience, it only seemed natural to seek his counsel and advice as I entered the workplace. I can recall early in my career discussing issues such as managing people, delegation, setting goals and prioritization. As my roles grew in responsibility, the conversations shifted to managing up, dealing with politics and conflict, and other leadership challenges. My mom was often present when these exchanges took place, but she seldom offered an opinion nor did we seek one from her. Although it wasn’t intentional to exclude her, I guess we assumed since she didn’t have “that type” of work experience she really wouldn’t have much to contribute to the conversation. For many years, I considered my dad my first mentor.

It wasn’t until I became a leadership coach that I realized the very important (although less obvious) role my mom had in my professional success and development as a leader. It didn’t happen during focused conversations like with my dad, but rather with her everyday values, lessons, and expectations that she had for the family she loved and home she managed. A few examples include:


Although the biggest supporter of her children, my mom never let us get “too big for our britches”. When our successes and accomplishments started veering us off the road of humility, she was quick to get us back on course. Not by focusing on our shortcomings, but rather to point out our success was due, at least in part, to the sacrifice and/or work of others. Never take that for granted and be sure to show gratitude and appreciation.

Serve Others

My mom’s adult life was all about serving others. In addition to raising her kids, she spent decades caring for an elderly parent and then her spouse. She also found time to serve her community and her church. Her quiet example of servant leadership was both inspiration and motivation for many and certainly instilled a strong sense of compassion and responsibility in her children and grandchildren.


Whereas my dad was from the camp of “get over it and move on” during times of set-back, my mom was more about learning from the experience. What was the lesson and how do we build confidence by going through this experience so we are better prepared for a similar situation in the future? It’s ok to feel bad or disappointed but it’s not the end of the world. Get up and try again.

It’s clear to me today that my mom, not my dad, was really my first mentor. Although in a less obvious way, I would argue the learning was more impactful. And although roles might reverse, and memories start to fade, the valuable lessons remain and continue to guide! Love you Mom--Happy Mother’s Day!

Debbie Platts is a leadership and small business coach with an extensive background as a results-driven executive of a Fortune 30 company. As a leadership coach, she partners with emerging and established leaders in designing their focused roadmap for success by increasing their self-awareness and maximizing their strengths. As a business coach, she works with businesses to clarify their vision and set impactful strategies that result in goal achievement and successful business results. She is a committed and passionate coach that holds her clients accountable for taking productive steps toward their vision of success. Debbie is a registered pharmacist who received her pharmacy degree at the University of Texas, MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from the University of Texas at Dallas. She earned an Associate Coach Certification from the International Coaching Federation.

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