Career progression is enhanced by the intentional act to develop new skills and build relationships. In fact, progress whether is through a promotion or a new role is enriched when support exists particularly through mentorship. We all benefit from the guidance of someone who has walked the path before us and from those who have knowledge in areas we seek to advance. However, we sometimes idealize the idea of having this greater than life traditional mentor and spend way too much of our time in pursuit to find them. The truth is we will probably never find them and if we do, they most likely will have a waiting list of folks who would love nothing more than to be mentored by them and who have been waiting long before we got there.
Knowing who to go to is game changing similarly important is staying flexible to the more unconventional mentor willing to share their knowledge along with some useful caveats. Finding and owning the opportunities which open the doors to learning allows us to hone and build our skills even redirect our paths entirely. Our understanding for the benefit flexibility brings, allows us to create a network of mentors exclusive to their individual strengths thus advancing our specific objectives. Think of it as a situational mentor- a person whose strengths you know and respect in a specific capacity. A fluid approach makes it possible for us to build an array of alliances that defy the standard sense of success.
The one-stop mentor will probably be of great help, but it will have the limitations of the one person’s scope of experiences and knowledge. We must build our support networks far and wide to maximize the scope of possibilities while letting go of restricting assumptions for who and what a mentor should be. When we let go of set beliefs, we effectively cultivate an environment of growth, allowing ourselves to gain knowledge from a diverse group in return gaining the growth we seek. The idea is to create a personal board of advisors that we rely on for different things at different times.
But wait, before starting the mentor list we must work on ourselves and be worthy of people’s time and energy. Figure out what you want and spend time working out your goals, learning about your industry, and doing your research. This will speak volumes about your self-awareness and how serious you are about your future; influencing the desire of your potential future mentors to spend time on you and ultimately the desire to see you succeed. You must do the work to become a better version of yourself.
Now, let us not forget to pay it forward! We can all support others along the way regardless of the position we hold. You do not have to be a top executive or an executive at all to be a mentor. Cultivating our relationships with others are effective tools to growing in our own capacity as the mentor and as the mentee.