How many of us have ever thought, I wish I had the power of hindsight when taking on a task or proceeding with a career opportunity, business idea or just in general life? Most of us feel the need to be guided in the right direction from time to time, especially when making big decisions, and this is why having a mentor could be the best decision you could ever make.
Mentors are usually people who have walked in your shoes, made the decisions you will need to make, and who are now in the place you would like to be in your future vision. They have been there, done that and worn the T-shirt. They know what it takes to succeed, and also what success looks like on the other side. A good mentor will allow you to use their power of hindsight to follow their path and gain an insight to your future self. They are somebody who you can look to for valuable answers, guidance and reassurance, through your own individual journey.
Here are 7 key ways a mentor can help drive your career success:
1. Provide honest, constructive criticism and advise where improvements are needed.
In order to succeed you need to measure your achievements but also be open to acknowledge your weaknesses. Nobody likes to admit the areas they fall short on, but it is important to recognize these and use them to move forward. Mentors can highlight problem areas, which are not always obvious to ourselves, and determine where to focus your strengths in order to excel.
2. Provide Information and knowledge from a hindsight perspective.
Wouldn’t it be great if every decision we made in life involved a step into the future to see what that decision resulted in? Obviously we will never have that luxury, but a mentor does provide an element of hindsight, as they have had to make similar decisions themselves and can advise where your decisions are likely to lead. They can also warn of unexpected consequences that may occur from your choices, which may mean certain decisions or ideas need further consideration.
3. Have the right connections.
Mentors in your field or industry will have a whole network of connections that they will probably, at some point, be willing for you to access in order to move forward. Knowing the right people at the right time can greatly improve your chances of success. They will not only have contacts of their own but are also likely to have a mentor too, one who has access to an even higher network of connections and who are in the right circles for you.
4. Are a good sounding board for new ideas & impartial, unbiased advice.
Mentors are great for bouncing ideas around with and can provide you with an informed opinion on what projects are likely to work, why they should work and their likely outcomes. They are very inclined to take a view from your perspective, rather than their own, so their thoughts will be unbiased and without ulterior motive.
5. Encourage development from the mentee’s perspective.
A good choice of mentor will likely possess the same general goals, values and characteristics as yourself and will understand your vision. However they will not push their own views upon you for their own personal needs. For example, if you were to ask a family member or close friend for advice, as much as they would genuinely want to help, they will be giving that advice from an emotional perspective due to their personal attachment to you. As you are in their lives, your choices are likely to affect them in some way so their advice becomes obscured by their own vision. A mentor provides advice from a much more detached perspective and is usually trained to let you answer your own questions from your own viewpoint, experiences and future goals, allowing you to make more informed decisions.
6. Help to hone in your skills in order to stay focused on your goals.
Mentors are great for keeping you on the right track. It is very easy to have so many ideas or options open that it is difficult to have a clear focus. A mentor will help you to explore your opportunities, highlight your personal skills and ultimately make the right choices for you. They have also probably already tackled inevitable problems in their own career, so will help you to find quicker and easier solutions through their own experience in order to stay more focused on your goals.
7. Help you to identify future opportunities and think outside the box.
Decisions should be made with the end vision in mind and this is where mentors provide invaluable input. They see future opportunities that you may not have yet considered, but which may be affected by the choices you make now. They are able to think outside the box and see the bigger picture in order to provide you with a whole different perspective.
Overall, a mentor is somebody who you can look up to and develop trust in their advice. They offer the value of hindsight, guidance, reassurance and priceless input from a place of experience. In a work setting they are likely to be free of charge so it is very beneficial to use them as much as you can to gain insight and knowledge. In a more professional setting they are likely to be qualified and trained in their questioning skills and their ability to get the best out of you. By listening and taking on board their value of expertise, a mentor can help you to constantly self-improve, save valuable time and help to avoid costly mistakes, therefore making faster progress and be more likely to succeed.