David Freese had Mark McGwire, Steven Spielberg had Jerry Lewis, and Christina Aguilera had Mariah Carey. Whether on the field, on the stage, or in the workplace, having a mentor can be one of the many driving forces behind the success of your career.
If you thoroughly study the trajectories of successful individuals, you'll learn that most of them have had considerable help in the process. Although we earn our rewards and opportunities on our own merit, it's our mentors who help us to accelerate, to confront challenges with greater confidence and to become better decision makers.
Despite career level, tenure and level of intelligence, we don't always know the answers on our own. A mentor can help rationalize the things we have trouble making sense of. They can help think through all the ramifications of a situation to be able to make wiser business decisions. Most importantly, they can help us validate our thoughts and opinions to build confidence in the future actions we take.
Selecting a Mentor
It could be as easy as identifying an exemplary individual who you hope to emulate someday – and then asking them if they are willing to mentor you. Or you might just find that you've made a special professional connection with someone who you continuously turn to for guidance, without formalizing the relationship. Regardless the approach, your mentor should be someone you're able to speak honestly to and take constructive feedback from. A true mentor will not feel threatened by your success, but honored to guide you onward and upward, as well as humbled to celebrate your achievements. Other strong qualities of a mentor include one's willingness to share knowledge and expertise, the ability to listen, evaluate and provide recommendations, and the enthusiasm to help others learn and grow. And you can bet that the mentor you choose has a mentor, too.
Quotes From Some of Purina's Mentors
It's gratifying to be able to coach someone and have them succeed. I can apply this experience to my direct reports.
I was able to connect with new individuals and learn about an area of the organization where I had previously no visibility.
I gained lots of insights on things happening in the company that I normally would not have known about. And a better appreciation for the routine things our employees are dealing with.
My mentee was very interested and it was interesting for me to see things from her perspective.