Right from birth we have always had someone who would direct us. Whether in the form of a parent, teacher, sports coach or manager at work. It is inevitable as human beings that we must be led or directed; even our leaders have leaders.
A mentor is someone who is where you want to be or someone who you are sure knows how to get you there. A mentor is not a babysitter who tells you what to do. Your mentor is like sat nav in a car; he/she will only give directions, but you must decide to drive towards the destination. I hear you ask, why do you need a mentor?
In most cases a mentor will have more experience in life and in your industry than you do (if your mentor isn’t more experienced than you then he/she shouldn’t be your mentor). This is very important to further your career. A mentor would have made mistakes that he/she can advise you to avoid. Having a mentor will not only increase your chances of becoming successful but may also make the process quicker.
Mentors also have a more objective view. Sometimes we have members of our family or a very distant relative as a mentor. While there is nothing wrong with that, this may cloud their objectivity. Having a mentor that is outside your family will bring fresh perspective and positive criticisms to your ambitious goals which will be very healthy for your success.
Their network will become your network. This is probably the most important reason of having a mentor. I previously mentioned that your mentor is someone who has more expertise in your industry than you do, more experience equals a robust network because the fact is “everyone needs someone to become a someone.” Your mentors networks becomes yours. Every time they introduce you to someone you indirectly represent them (therefore do not abuse). Again using their network will speed up your journey to success.
Your mentor becomes your confidante. Depending on the personality of your mentor or the kind of relationship you have with your mentor, they could also be the person you run to discuss some personal issues. Let’s be real, every now and again we all need someone to talk to. It is always healthy to let stuff off your chest.
Sometimes we may attach ourselves to the wrong personality as our mentor or someone who doesn’t believe we can achieve our ambitious goals. Sometimes, it is someone who isn’t supportive or maybe we may have out grown our mentor. Don’t be afraid to get rid of your mentor professionally. At the end of the day it is your life. If someone isn’t adding value they are subtracting value.
Try to add value to your mentors by taking an interest in what they do for a living or maybe their personal hobby. It is not necessary to do so, but a mentee who equally adds value to their mentor will only strengthen and make the relationship more enjoyable.
Don’t be afraid to have more than one mentor. If you are the type that believes in multiple streams of income or you like to diversify your portfolio then you need an expert (mentor) for each stream of income.
To conclude, a mentor is essential to get you to the next level and enhance your prospects to succeed, not just in your career but in your life. It is never too late to get a mentor because the road to success has no destination but a constant journey of development and self-assessment till you die. So get one today!
N.B. A great example of a fantastic mentor relationship is that of Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy in the NBC comedy show, 30 ROCK.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Felix Mizioznikov