The stakes are high for what might be our most ambitious plan – our career. Even if we see the vision clearly, it’s all but ridden with blind spots.
Despite the millions of self-help books on career planning, they fail to role model success, steer you through hurdles or address shortcomings. It takes a huge amount of self-discipline and will power to persevere and work through career challenges. Navigating around changes in the job market and mastering new skills can be painful and costly.
But perhaps the biggest challenge is viewing our career objectively. And let’s be honest, we’re less likely to be objective about ourselves. It’s painful to recognise a weakness or accept we may never be strong in a particular area.
Getting a good mentor could be your best career move.
How else might you tap into years of lived experience and insight, learn first-hand what success looks like, or the skills and traits you’ll need to get there? It’s time to ask someone to be your mentor.
Mentors view your career from a different vantage point – they can uncover your blind spots before they derail your career plan.
Grooming traits for success
Traits are our natural tendencies and abilities that shape our behaviour. For example, trust and optimism seem positive but too much of these traits can make leaders excessively hands-off. Likewise, insufficient doses of self-awareness can come across as volatility.
Often management is focused on developing skills rather than grooming traits needed to excel in a particular field as these are harder to observe and even trickier to build.
Real growth in any profession requires honest feedback. Mentors can see where you need to improve where we often cannot and nurture the traits that will serve your career.
Have you got what it takes?
It’s a given, we need the right experience and competencies in order to advance our career. But what, and how much do you need? And how do you really know you’ve nailed those newly acquired skills?
People who have an inflated sense of skill level are six times more likely to derail in their career plan that people who have an accurate self-assessment.
A mentor brings invaluable insight into the road to success, and the experiences and skills that will help you get there. Whether it’s a lateral career move, shadowing another employee or attending a course, a mentor can advise on ways to bridge these gaps.
Don’t let failure break you
Challenge, growth and even failure build resilience. But that’s tough to remember when you’re feeling defeated, or you’ve hit a career roadblock. Even the most successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs (the NeXT Computer anyone?) have suffered a miss step of some sort.
Why suffer when you can learn from someone else’s mistakes?
Learning how to handle failure, rejection or disappointment in a productive way will serve you wisely in your career. Mentors can share wisdom on how they faced a setback or emerged stronger on the other side. Plus they offer support sprinkled, heavily with cheerleading.
The road map to a successful career can be bumpy at best. But in virtually any industry, having a mentor can be the catalyst for enriching career development.
Whether you’re after specific support in the short-term, want to transition to a new job or would simply love a role model, a mentor is an investment in your career.