We’ve all been asked the question “Who’s your role model?” and have given all kinds of answers that range from President Obama, to Bill Gates, to Big Papi, to Grandpa. A more difficult question is “Who’s your mentor?” and maybe we haven’t always had an answer. We can find role models seemingly anywhere, but finding a mentor takes much more time and effort. When you think about it, a mentor is a type of role model, but not all role models are mentors. Your mentor is someone with whom you have a personal relationship, and someone you can talk to when you need guidance.
According to recent job studies, 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs because mentees consistently experience higher career satisfaction and positive attitudes (and are 5x more likely to get promoted!). If you don’t already have a mentor, here are 3 key reasons to strongly consider finding one:
1. You can learn from their experience.
We all make mistakes, but why make the same one twice? When you’re faced with a tough decision in the workplace, your mentor has probably been there before. Ask about the important decisions and challenges they overcame – listen carefully to how they approached each situation. Learning from their experiences can provide valuable insight to help you make your own decisions and avoid mistakes.
And experience does not always involve the workplace. Perhaps some of the best advice comes from both the achievements and mistakes that your mentor has made at various times – the life, love, and pursuit of happiness kind of stuff. He or she can give you a unique perspective for thinking, engaging, and reflecting upon complicated situations. Your mentor is your ally whose experience can help shed light into seemingly dark times.
2. They can open doors.
With all the different experiences your mentor has had, he or she has probably met some interesting people. Something that is often overlooked is that mentors have the ability to lead you to new opportunities. Mentors can introduce you to his or her own network of connections to help you further your professional career. They can even bring you on board at their workplaces with internship offers or even full-time jobs. If you invest the time to develop the mentor-mentee relationship and show that you’ve learned from their advice, your mentor will know exactly in which direction to point you.
3. They can inspire you.
So you might be thinking, “But role models inspire me too!” Yes, they definitely do, but it’s not quite the same thing. Because you maintain contact with your mentor, he or she can then tailor advice to fit your situation best. Unfortunately, you can only assume what the President, or Tebow, or Gandhi would say to any given challenge, but you can easily have an engaging conversation with your mentor. Mirna Santana puts it perfectly when she says that mentors “provide guidance, inspiration and an engine that catapults the student farther and faster than it would by its own means”. It’s this kind of push, the “engine”, that will give you the ambition to set and pursue your goals.
Of course, finding the perfect mentor will take time, but mentors can be found in more places than you would expect. They can be teachers, professional experts, family members, and even your good friends! You can always have more than one, so ask the tough questions and get to know people. If you put yourself out there, your mentor may just find you!
Do you have stories about your own mentors? Post them below!