‘She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. Mentors are important, and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship.’ – Oprah to Maya Angelou
Yes, even Oprah had a mentor.
You may ask: “What’s a mentor and why do I need one?”
Throughout our lives, it’s important that we build fulfilling and valuable relationships. These interactions play a vital role in our happiness. Similar to our personal lives, establishing solid relationships with the right people in our professional circle is equally important. Being surrounded with experienced and highly skilled people who are willing to mentor and take you under their wings can move your career forward by leaps and bounds.
Here are 5 ways mentors can be invaluable in your professional career journey:
- They can tell you what no one else can
Experience is the best teacher. Chances are, your mentor is where they are right now because of their career experiences and the obstacles they have had to overcome. Receiving advice from a mentor can be a safe avenue to receive honest and unfiltered feedback to help you hone in on the most critical areas you need to work on. Sometimes feedback from our leaders can be mixed and unclear because they are trying to protect our feelings or not sure how to communicate challenging feedback. Having a trusted mentor to help you decipher your feedback and to give you pertinent advice is invaluable.
- They can challenge you
Mentors have a way of pushing you beyond your perceived limits. There’s no better way to motivate yourself than to think that if others can, so can you! Mentors will stretch your expectations of yourself and will cause you to think at a higher strategic level. Mentors’ years of experience have equipped them with expertise on the ins and outs of the industry you’re in, what worked and did not work as well as the do’s and don’ts in order to be successful. These are valuable nuggets of wisdom that you can learn from. Let them motivate you to get out of your comfort zone, harp on your strengths and stretch yourself to get ahead in your career.
- They can be your coach
Sometimes, when the going gets tough and you feel like giving up – a dose of an inspirational and success story from a person you look up to is enough to give you the boost to carry on. Just like anyone else, your mentor has gone through ups and downs before they achieved their current success and position. It will be beneficial to ask them how they have been able to overcome their challenges. They can coach you and give you their best strategies to get through the hard days.
- They can be your cheerleader
In times of self-doubt in your career journey, your mentor can give you the words of encouragement you need the most. Many times, after long days or unsuccessful meetings, they can encourage you and also remind you of your past successes. As you build your relationship with trust and confidence, you will find it easy to speak to your mentor about how you really feel about your career journey and lean on them in tough career situations.
- They can help you expand your network
Have you heard: ‘It’s not what you know; it’s who you know”? Your mentors have their own professional networks they have built for themselves. You can leverage these connections of your mentors and expand your own professional network. You’ll never know when and with whom your next big career break will happen.
Having a mentor, especially during the early days of your professional life, can make your career journey a little less daunting. Remember that you’re still the one in the driver’s seat when it comes to the destination of your career, but a good mentor will be there to inspire, encourage and support you along the way. That is invaluable.