The Importance Of A Mentor
You may well be wondering how you can progress to the next level in your career, whether it be exploring options at a different company, or taking on more responsibilities along with a promotion. While you may be able to strategize your way towards your goals, the importance of having a mentor cannot be overstated.
Some have too much of an ego to recognize that a mentor can add value; a shortsighted perspective, considering that even the most successful people in the world have had a mentor of some kind to guide and inspire them. You may only realize down the line how important your mentor was to your business and possibly even your life as a whole.
Warren Buffett is considered to be one of the most legendary investors that have ever lived and has made billions in his lifetime. Despite his legacy, Buffet is open about the fact that Benjamin Graham was a mentor to him that provided him with valuable information about how to live his life. For those who are unaware, Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor, actually taught Buffett at Columbia Business School. Buffet has even named one of his children after Graham. No one is too successful for a mentor. Here are some reasons that demonstrate the importance of a mentor to your career and your life.
The most apparent reason for a mentor: they are already accomplished with respect to your field. They have gone through many struggles on the way to success and can show you how to maneuver and avoid similar pitfalls. This perspective and foresight is enlightening and can help you understand your career, as well as your strengths and weaknesses in a whole new way.
The value in a mentor is that, along with their success, they’ve made tons of mistakes. They can explain how those mistakes happened so that you can avoid making the same ones. Similarly, they can also offer some of the creative solutions that they came up with in response to these problems, so that you might be able to apply it to your own situation, as well. Mentors can not only emphasize certain ideas and principles to help you forge your own path but can also inform you about career advice that you should ignore, as well.
There are situations in an individual’s life where they might think that it’s time to give up. This isn’t limited to a particular sector or industry at all. For example, Eminem is one of the most successful rap artists of all time, but he was considering quitting rap before he made it. For those that are unaware, during the 1990s, many people considered the peak of rappers’ careers to be in their mid-20s.
Eminem was already 27 by the time he released his first album, but the fact that hip-hop legend Dr. Dre was involved with his career is one of the reasons why he knew that there was potential. In fact, some of Dr. Dre’s closest advisers even cautioned against signing Eminem, who was Caucasian and attempting to penetrate an industry that was predominantly African-American. Of course, we all now know that Dr. Dre was smart to encourage Eminem, as he proceeded to have one of the most successful hip-hop careers of all time. Eminem has also acknowledged Dr. Dre’s mentorship on many occasions.
True mentors understand the need to encourage their mentee in order for them to reach their full potential. While there is nothing wrong with self-reliance, a mentor truly inspiring you to strive to the next level might be exactly what you need to develop your career.
A New Perspective
Your friends and family can offer some great advice, but the truth is that they are biased. These are people that have a close connection to you, and who probably want to see you succeed. It may be tough for them to see another perspective, or to understand why co-workers are associates are frustrated with you. It’s common for those close to you to be biased about your life, and mentors can help you cut through the noise in that respect.
A mentor is a valuable, unbiased third party that is willing to explain to you the hard truth about a situation. Your friends might be scared to reveal their true opinion about an issue because they feel like it might affect your friendship. Similarly, your family might feel as though they should be “on your side” at all times. A true mentor will understand that honesty is more important than your feelings, and should have no problem explaining why you might be wrong in your attitude, approach, ideas, or strategy. It might not be comfortable to hear, but a mentor will understand that you will thank him or her later for the unbiased perspective. This perspective might also help you spot opportunities that you didn’t see before, as well.
There is a good chance that you have heard the saying “your network determines your net worth”. You can invest a significant amount of money into a business, but the friendships that you cultivate might mean more opportunities in the future. There are all sorts of ways you can develop your network – whether it’s through your own quality work, doing favors for other people, or socializing at certain events and conferences. Of course, technology has also made it easier than ever before to network with people, and made it so that networking doesn’t even require a face-to-face meeting.
A mentor with decades of experience has probably built up an incredible network of contacts thanks to their work. If you lose a job or a client, they might be able to introduce you to people who can provide you with a new opportunity. They might even be able to help you find better, “out of reach” opportunities than your peers, which can give you your own chance to develop your own unique network. You might be surprised at the kind of power that comes from a mentor contacting someone for you, and a mentor might even help you create career opportunities that never existed before.
It’s apparent how important a mentor is, but what exactly do the numbers say? Well, you might be surprised to find out that 70% of mentored businesses survive more than five years, which is over double the rate of non-mentored businesses. It’s hard to deny the fact that mentors clearly help mentees maneuver through their respective fields quite efficiently.
When you have a mentor, one of the advantages that you have is that you have access to someone that understands which information is crucial to know. Consequently, they can help you understand your industry and think about it in a new way.
While no one can “learn” information for you – mentors can point you into the right direction, and tell you what areas you might want to look into. Mentors also understand that learning is a lifelong journey, and can encourage you to continually learn more so that you can become more successful.