In a world of endless choices and paths, finding a mentor can be a lifesaver. We live in a society that is always buzzing with the voices and opinions of many, so forging pathways and making decisions with little to no guidance can be overwhelming. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or even lost about which step to take next in your professional or personal life, you may need a mentor.
What is a mentor?
A mentor is generally a more experienced individual in a respective field who influences or provides guidance to a mentee. A mentee is an individual with less experience whose desire is to become more experienced in the mentor’s respective field. Mentors may provide advice by sharing personal experiences about their careers or life choices. Overall, the mentor’s job is to act as a positive example, steer the mentee in the right direction, and provide advice to the mentee where necessary. This advice can be career, goal, or resource-based.
Ten reasons why you need a mentor:
1. A mentor can provide valuable insight.
Valuable insight can be life-changing. Many young professionals experience the confusing state of ‘not knowing.’ Many are uncertain about getting to the next stage of life and the actionable steps they need to take. Gaining insight from a mentor who is at the level you aspire to be, and has already walked the path you’ve yet to walk, can prove incredibly beneficial to your career development. Having a mentor will equip you with the actual steps that need to be taken to get there.
2. A mentor can support and encourage.
Has there ever been a time in your professional or even personal life when you’ve felt like throwing in the towel? How about demotivated and disconnected from it all? You might have even questioned why you started in the first place. This is where a mentor can make or break the trajectory of your life. A mentor is there to encourage and support you when you are at your lowest point and fail to see the point in trying. Mentors remind you why you started when you forget to remind yourself.
3. A mentor will provide unbiased and constructive criticism.
It can be easy to become partial and, in the process, lose sight of the bigger picture or other sides of a situation. A mentor is there to point out your potential biases and offer clear, constructive criticism. A mentor wants to ensure you always see the complete picture from several angles. New business idea(s)? You can voice them to your mentor and expect to hear an unbiased opinion. This way, you can make the best decision as you advance.
4. A mentor is also an ally.
Remember, your mentor is on your side. A good mentor is interested in your continuous professional and self-development. You can rest assured with this in mind. There is no need to fear voicing new ideas or projects to your mentor. If anything, you should be excited. Think of your mentor as your more experienced, personal cheerleader.
5. A mentor can bring you networking opportunities.
If you know how to network effectively, it can propel your career. Luckily, if you have a good mentor, you may already have a foot in the door. Your mentor has already walked the road you want to walk, and chances are, also met many influential and powerful connections along the way. Your mentor can introduce you to other industry professionals and help you build valuable relationships.
6. A mentor will keep you accountable.
Have you ever wished you had a personal drill sergeant to give you that extra push on days when you ‘don’t feel like it’? Your mentor will push you when you find yourself unable to push yourself. They will remind you of your set goals, the timelines you’ve established, and highlight when you’re not performing up to par. You can also rest assured that your mentor is pushing you, not to be mean or overbearing, but in your best interest.
7. A mentor creates necessary boundaries.
A mentor is there to be one of your biggest supporters and cheerleaders. However, a mentor’s purpose is not to coddle you but also to know when to draw the line and allow you to think and stand on your own feet. A mentor will know when it’s time for you to be self-motivated and disciplined. In the long run, this will help you to be self-reliant.
8. A mentor can act as a third eye.
Sometimes, we focus on the bigger picture and lose sight of intricate, essential details. A mentor can view both you and your projects through a clear lens. A mentor is often able to pick up on minute details you otherwise wouldn’t have. This also applies to your faults. Mentors aren’t afraid to point out your potential flaws and areas that could use improvement. Don’t be surprised if your mentor points out things about yourself you didn’t even recognize.
9. A mentor will challenge you.
Being around someone who agrees with everything you say or every idea you have may stroke your ego, but it will not stimulate your growth in the long run. A mentor will provide counterarguments and challenge you to justify your stance or position on specific issues.
10. A mentor will protect you.
While mentors provide exposure, challenge, and provide unbiased opinions, a part of their role is to protect their mentee. Premature exposure can prove damaging in some cases, and your mentor is there to ensure they expose you to the right things at the right time.
Tackling professional or personal life alone can prove a difficult feat, but with the right mentor in your corner, you can tackle it head-on. If you haven’t already, consider seeking a mentor in your field and watch your professional/personal life transform.