Mentor: an experienced and trusted adviser
A few years back I decided to really push my career forward and take it off of “auto pilot.” I remember seeking to connect with other like minded women thinking that would be a great place to start. At the time, there wasn’t a local woman’s resource group established for my organization within my state. When I approached my boss about this, she said, “Well why don’t you start it?” I laughed because I knew she wasn’t kidding. I approached another woman that had been my manager in the past, and together all three of us formed the bylaws, gathered the membership and it blossomed beautifully. The group has grown exponentially and is still thriving today. She was a great mentor and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.
Every piece of career advice will at some point approach the subject of a mentor. Honestly, I still don’t have all the answers on who or what this person should be or where to find them. However, I do know what they have been to me throughout my career and how it has helped shape the leader I am today. I also know people read way too far into what a mentor should be! Some are probably still looking one year after year because of the “information overload” around the subject. Start with these 3 things in mind and it may be all you’ll need!
Find Who Inspires You
At various points in my career I needed to learn to various skills.
Early on I needed a mentor that could help me through the “learning curve.” That transitional period that taught me the basic survival skills. Someone that could break it down, simplify the skills I needed in ‘layman’s terms.’ At that time I wasn’t provided a formalized training program so I was looking for help anywhere I could find it. I remember connecting with the best mentor a girl could ask for: a guy that had actually done my role and done it well in a very short amount of time! He was young, vibrant and inspiring. He had a no-nonsense kind of attitude toward planning each day and an amazing ability to show me exactly what needed to be done to be successful.
Many years later, I have a mentor that is helping me broaden my scope of responsibilities and prepare for that next role. Look for that person who will be honest with you about you strengths and opportunities. The person that pushes you to be better, to take on more responsibility and motivates you to do so because they believe in you.
You don’t need a Formalized Mentorship Agreement
The best mentor relationships happen organically.
I love the saying, ” Where energy flows, attention goes.” Begin to focus on what you want for your career! Who do you want to be and begin to look for others that are already there. Let your daily energy flow toward making those connections. You don’t have to know how all the connection will be made but just believe they will. When you find someone that you feel comfortable sharing with, someone that is genuine and has your best interest in mind, call on them and foster the relationship. And just like that, you have a mentor!
Move Toward Multiple Mentors
Everyone has unique strengths we can draw upon.
In your career you will come across people who inspire you for different reasons. One person may be very motivating by telling you exactly what you need to hear even if it isn’t what you want to hear. Another person may be great at listening, acting as a sounding board and staying neutral when you need that on certain days. Foster all of these relationships!
Don’t underestimate the people you already have in your court. The family and friends that are in different fields/different companies but can help refine transferable skill sets that are beneficial in multiple avenues of business. Often, these people will help open your mind, broaden your perspective and breathe life back into your journey.
I would love to hear about those that serve as mentors to you! Leave your comments below.