If you're trekking through the jungles of Borneo, would you go it alone, or would you prefer to use a guide: someone who has been there before, has learned which animals are dangerous, and knows how to get where you're going? Having a guide for your jungle adventure is much like having a mentor in your career. A mentor is someone who's been where you are now, who's journeyed close to where you want to be, and who's made his or her own mistakes; Someone who is willing to impart the wisdom of experience, and so help you avoid the same pitfalls. With this type of advice and guidance you will be that much more likely to reach your career and/or personal goals.
If you have a good mentor, you can:
And if you are fortunate enough to develop a truly excellent mentoring relationship, and have a mentor who cares about your success, the impact on your career can be profound. A great mentor may also open up new opportunities, help you find alternate routes when doors close to you, and stand by you when you make mistakes. Finding and developing a mentoring relationship like that takes time and commitment. But for many people, it will be paid back one hundred times over, and is well worth the persistence required.
You may be thinking "People don't have mentors in my company" or perhaps "Mentoring is not for people like me." But think again. Your organization or community has much to gain by encouraging mentoring – such learning is definitely to be encouraged, and so people are probably more open to the idea than you might expect.
Perhaps you are also thinking "Why would anyone want to mentor me?", and again you might be surprised by the answer. Many people find mentoring gives them a great sense of fulfillment and personal satisfaction. True, potential mentors are probably very busy, successful people, but the right mentor for you will find your relationship rewarding and mutually beneficial, and is much more open to the idea too, than you might expect.
So, does finding a mentor sounds like a good idea? Great! Let's look at some of the ways you can help yourself find one – the right one – and help you on the way to even greater career success.
Finding mentor probably won't happen overnight, and it probably won't happen at all unless you spend some time examining what it is you want from a mentoring relationship. What's more it certainly won't happen unless you're open to the possibilities and opportunities that surround you – sometimes you'll need to pursue a relationship and opportunity without knowing exactly where it might lead.
You might find a great mentor within your company, or within your wider industry or profession. Or perhaps your ideal mentor might be someone you know personally rather than professionally. Before you can ask the question of who might mentor you, it's useful to think about...
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