A mentor is someone who guides, advises and encourages you throughout your personal and professional life. They’re the person you turn to when there are challenges that overwhelm you or there’s a fork in the road or you’re faced with certain difficulties.
This mentor could be an authority figure, a family member, a manager or anyone who’s able to educate and walk you through your academic or professional career. They’re invested in your future and your success.
However, not everyone has a mentor or advisor they can rely on. Some don’t even recognize the importance of having one or the value of support systems on the whole.
Why you can’t go far without a mentor
You think you’re doing perfectly well on your own, navigating through your career with a hit-or-miss approach, trying to make sense of things that come your way. However, the difference it makes to have somebody that understands where you are in life and where you want to go is significant.
The wisdom your mentor possesses comes from experience; they’ve walked in your shoes and have an idea of where you are. They’re taking time out of their schedules and their lives trying to help you be the best version of yourself.
If you’re struggling to find a mentor or haven’t given it much thought, here are some reasons why it’s well worth doing so:
They have relevant experience, knowledge and insight
Mentors have the fortune of experience. Typically, these are people in the same field as you or a field you wish to pursue. They could be entrepreneurs, engineers, tech experts, teachers or even athletes who have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to up and coming professionals. They also have insight into the way a particular industry works. From the kinds of specialties and skills that will sell to whether a goal is worth chasing after, they can impart their wisdom to you.
They’re able to recognize your weaknesses
Your friends and family may not point out the shortcomings that disrupt your growth. However, it’s part and parcel of any good mentor’s role to do that. They are the ones who will tell you you’re too impulsive or irrational or let people take advantage of you. They’re the ones who will objectively point out when your weaknesses hinder your progress and how to work around them.
They are also human, after all. They’ve had their own weaknesses, made their own mistakes and are now willing and able to look back and understand how they would have done things differently.
They can protect you from making the same mistakes they did so you don’t have to struggle the same way.
They push you to grow even when it’s uncomfortable
Another incredibly important role that a mentor plays in your life is pushing you to do more, to do better, to work harder even on the days when you don’t want to. They help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and how to get there while knowing when to stop.
Mentors know how far you can go and when you max out, and it’s their job to help you reach your peak. Discomfort is a natural part of change and growth. Without it, you won’t get very far.
They encourage instead of enabling you
Your mentor is one of your biggest sources of support and strength, but they are the people who will call you out and hold you accountable. They won’t let you off the hook—they’re responsible for shaping you into an independent, intelligent individual who can own up to their mistakes.
When you’re in a dark place or difficult situation, your friends and family might enable behaviors that can be toxic and downright harmful in the long run. They will allow you to fall into habits that provide you gratification and relief—but at the expense of your stability and sanity.
A mentor, on the other hand, will encourage behaviors and practices that benefit you.
They act as a safe space for your ideas to be nurtured
While keeping you in check, your mentor will also provide you a sanctuary. They will act as a sounding board for your ideas and your dreams—however irrational they may initially seem—helping you to actualize them. Not just through encouragement, but through actual strategies, advice and decision-making potential.
They offer invaluable emotional and intellectual advice that other people may not be in a position to give. In fact, they’re likely to understand your ambitions better than most.
They help you network and connect
Apart from individual support and advice, one of the biggest advantages of a mentor with industry reach is their network. They can help you connect with individuals and organizations that will fuel your growth.
Don’t venture through this world alone; see who’s willing to build a relationship with you and trust them—and yourself—to follow through. You need guidance, especially when you’re mired in self-doubt or at a career crossroads.
About the Author
Steve Rizzo is a Hall of Fame Speaker and a professional keynote speaker. He has delivered his powerful Common Sense Success Strategies to audiences at corporate events throughout the world. To hire him for your next event, contact his team through his website.