TODAY

TODAY   |  October 04, 2013

Draw the line between tough love and sensitive support

Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein and Joanne Lipman, author of “Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations,” share their tips on how to recognize and appreciate the mentors in your life.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> when you're a kid, that person's usually a parent or teacher. what about when you're an adult. here to talk about the importance of a mentor is jennifer hartstein a psychologist and author of

"strings attached: one tough teacher and the gift of expectations." welcome.

>> thanks. great to be here.

>> we don't think of mentors -- i guess we get to a point in our lives where we know our job --

>> so we don't seek out somebody else to help us along the way. we know it all.

>> you don't know it all. there's always someone who is a few steps ahead of you. even as adults, it's important to take a step back and say what do i want to do next in this trajectory? who might be able to provide guidance with a firm hand and figure out my next step to where i want to go.

>> is that not called a friend, joanne?

>> not necessarily. so our book "strings attached" is about the toughest teacher in the world, essentially. the guy we did not appreciate at the time. definitely not our friend. and yet, many years later when this man passed away , hundreds, thousands students rallied and said this was the guy that really taught us things like resilience and perseverance.

>> i think women watch, do i seek someone out and say, hey, can you help me.

>> you can do both, i think. there are organizations out there where you can actually go put up a profile of what you're looking for for a mentor. my father's involved in something like this where he mentored young people starting businesses as he was an established business person and they kind of pair them up on this website so you can ask around, ask people you know, go seek someone. the reason a friend might not always be the best, they're so emotionally invested in you they might not give you an honest opinion. whereas a mentor, you want to build a relationship of respect.

>> is this a commercial venture? do you have to pay for this? is this all free on the internet somewhere?

>> it's both. all the different levels. you can do both. you do have ways if you don't have them.

>> that's a tough love person you would try to avoid at all costs. you don't learn about it until later. sometimes the best mentors are the ones tough on you.

>> it's about tough love. what a great mentor is not the person who coddles you and pats you on the head and says you're so great. they're the person who is really honest with you who says, you know, work harder, who says, you know, the best teachers and end being. and if you think about your own best teachers, it's probably not the one who let you get away with everything. it was probably the one who kicked your butt.

>> i had one in sixth grade. no, tenth grade, no 11th grade said she was going to fail me if i didn't enter a certain pageant and it was a scholarship pageant kind of thing. i don't know if she would've but she scared me enough i did it.

>> it's finding the balance between being able to say you have to do this. you can do better. and i'm telling you that because i know you can do better. and they're pulling the best out of you. it's finding that fine line balance between driving you so hard it demoralizes you but driving you hard enough it lifts you.

>> it could be anything. you might not know --

>> for me, it was a teacher in sixth grade who i loved. she had us doing all kinds of things and i never forgot it. but i think you get to a point in your life where you think, oh that person knows how to do it better than me. should i ask for help or do my own thing?

>> it's so true. it could be in the workplace, might be someone you really admire.

>> yeah.

>> say something.

>> who is a bunch of levels ahead of you. but they've been where you've been and they can share with you that experience.

>> most are willing to also. they're flattered.

>> they are flattered.

>> and if we can learn from an intern. sometimes an intern will say something like, oh, my god, that's genius, but you have to take a second and pay attention and realize you don't have to learn from people who are higher than you.

>> the key is to learn something from everybody. you can ask to get to where you want to go.

>> the person in the room nobody wants to be around is the person that thinks they know everything.

>> that's right. and i think the best leaders are the ones that do say they want to pay it forward. they want to talk to the young people .