What advice would I offer my younger working self?
It would be to find a good mentor, someone who was a positive role model, able to provide me with sound advice and deliver a reality check when needed.
Looking back at my younger self I was full of desire to succeed, but actually had no idea how to do this. I was also full of angst and frustration, a typical state of mind a young person, but this resulted in me carrying a chip on my shoulder, which grew every time I didn’t get an outcome I wanted or expected.
I became more stubborn and would “cut off my nose, to spite my face”. The only person I was obstructing and hurting was myself. What I needed was someone that I respected from a professional perspective to tell me to stop and think! I also needed someone to help me see things from a different perspective, help me navigate and negotiate my career path, developing the skills to enable me to achieve more positive outcomes, ones which would also benefit my employer’s.
Don’t get me wrong I worked extremely hard and did achieve things and progressed in my career, but this was without any clear direction because mentoring was unheard of then. Looking back I didn’t reach my full potential and employers throughout my earlier career didn’t take advantage of everything I had to offer. In the end I walked away from a career that I had dedicated my working life to since leaving school because I just couldn’t see how I was going to get where I wanted to go and I had no one to talk to and explore options.
Today is National Mentoring Day and I now find myself in a very different place, a lot wiser and experienced in life and business and providing coaching and mentoring services to businesses. It is so rewarding to work with an individual or team of people and see them develop their skills, grow, learn from their mistakes and go on to achieve in their work and life.
What’s the advantage of someone from the outside being the mentor?
A good mentor builds trust and good rapport with their mentee and having an external mentor can mean this is more easily achieved. Having a mentor that isn’t working directly with the mentee, either managing or directing them can mean a fresh perspective on a situation can be offered and different solutions explored. It can be a very practical way of helping supporting people within an organisation and enabling them to reach their full potential.
So next time you think someone in your organisation needs support to help them develop, think of the value a good mentor can have on that person and your business.