Improve Your Career – Become a Mentor or Mentee
There is a quote that says, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”
During the course of my recruiting I have engaged in thousands of conversations with successful people from all walks of life. One of the common threads I hear from them is that they can pinpoint a handful of key influencers who guided and shaped them at various stages of their lives and careers. I am a big fan of mentoring and have been fortunate enough to have been both a mentor and a mentee at times in my career.
As part of our own commitment to personal and professional development we should be proactively seeking mentors, and developing relationships with them instead of waiting for them to present themselves in our lives. While many people may give into the feeling that they need to make mistakes on their own so that they can learn first-hand from them, data suggests the quickest and easiest pathway to achievement is to seek the advice of people who have spent time learning and acquiring the knowledge we are seeking.
It is important to be open to the benefits that can come as a result of being mentored – especially when it comes to your career. In his latest book, “Earn What You’re Worth”, author Brian Tracy discusses how mentoring and other personal development actions can dramatically increase your value in the workplace. Here are some highlights on how to identify and employ a mentor to the fullest extent.
1.) Determine the key skills, expertise or knowledge you want to develop in order to reach your short and long-term goals. Then, outline your objectives for both personal and professional growth. Lastly, identify your possible mentor. They should show mastery in the areas you need assistance, have their own act together, and exhibit openness and sincerity towards you. Who demonstrates an interest in you as an individual and generally shows concern about your achievements? Don’t give into thinking that nobody has the time or interest to mentor you. If someone shows the tendencies described above they will most likely be flattered to be of value to someone else.
2.) Commit to putting into practice the wisdom and knowledge you receive. Also, keep in mind the key differences between friends and a mentor. A friend is more likely to tell you what you want to hear whereas a mentor will tell you what you need to hear. Keep your mentor up to date on your actions and progress. This will keep them motivated to assist you. Your mentor will receive satisfaction from knowing that their assistance is of value to you.
3.) Remember this like any other relationship is a two-way street. It requires work from both sides in order for the maximum benefit to be realized. You must have an open mind and not hear only what you want to hear and you must avoid filtering out the rest. Be ready. Be flexible.
If you are at a point in life and your career where you read this and say “been there, done that” and have achieved a relative measure of success, you may want to consider mentoring others. Share your gifts and talents with others and help them discover theirs. Let others know that you are willing to make yourself available to them to listen, exchange ideas and offer guidance – all without judgment. A successful mentor doesn’t tell a mentee what they should or should not do; rather they allow the mentee to find solutions themselves. In essence, a mentor should practice being empowering without directing – a challenging, yet important distinction. Being a mentor provides you the dual benefit of being the teacher and sometimes being the student. You might be surprised at what you learn along the way.
I hope you consider my challenge to become a mentor or a mentee. Let me know your experiences along your journey.