People who ask for help are weak. Right?
Humans like to feel secure, so we convince ourselves that we should appear strong without vulnerability or weakness. That’s just bad thinking. Too much self-reliance makes others think you don’t know what you’re doing.
When you’re ready to acknowledge your need for help, the options can seem underwhelming. YouTube videos, conferences, and continued education are nice, but they can only do so much. If you’re serious about advancing your career, you need a mentor.
“Mentorship is the most consistent and effective way to grow as a professional,” says Rob Borrego, CEO at Credera, a full-service management and IT consulting firm. “By striving to create a culture of mentorship and implementing a formal program we’ve noticed incredible results among our teams. People who used to be hesitant to solicit feedback are now more confident and eager to expand their knowledge and tackle new challenges.”
If you’re on the fence about whether a mentor could help your career, consider the following reasons to find one:
You need to fill gaps in your training.
The best universities don’t adequately prepare graduates for the workforce. A recent report from The Learning House and Future Workplace found that more than half of job openings at surveyed companies remained unfilled because there were no qualified candidates. The businesses themselves weren’t helping, with 74 percent of surveyed companies spending just $500 per employee on training.
Mentors provide the knowledge and growth that educators and employers don’t because they have the ability to walk through daily life with you. Mentors lead by example. It’s amazing what the model of a great mentor can teach you simply by observing their ways. A good mentor can teach you things you never would have learned in a classroom or from an onboarding video.
You don’t recognize all your opportunities.
Have you worked in your industry for decades? Are you intimately familiar with the development of the workplace, the changing demands of employers, and the evolving needs of clients? You probably aren’t — but your mentor would be.
Even if you’re great in your current role, a mentor can help you identify career options you may not have considered. What if you’re a killer programmer, but your people skills could land you a better-paying role as a client-facing consultant, with more room to advance? A knowledgeable mentor can show you doors you never knew existed.
You’re not as motivated as you could be.
The battle between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation continues to rage. Intrinsic motivation is typically the more powerful of the two, while extrinsic motivation is useful in short bursts to achieve specific, time-sensitive goals.
Your mentor won’t bribe you to perform better. However, your mentor can help you rethink your philosophy and realign your priorities to set yourself up for future success. With someone there to tell you exactly what you stand to gain (or lose), you can focus more closely on what matters most to you.
You haven’t learned to plot your path to success.
What does success mean to you? Do you want to retire early, see the world, earn as much as possible, be your own boss, or climb to the top of the company ladder? Whatever your goals are, your mentor understands through experience what it will take to achieve them.
Say you want to be the boss one day. You work hard in your field, help others in your company, and generally get along, but you don’t know whether your career trajectory will lead you where you want to go. A good mentor will teach you how to measure the impact you have on your company, prove your value, and leverage your hard work into tangible rewards.
You will mentor others one day.
The more you grow as a professional, the more likely it is that you’ll be responsible for others at some point. When that day comes, your success will depend on the success of your team.
You already know that mentoring makes others better. What better way to build a strong team than to become a mentor yourself? You’ll not only invest in your own development, but also in the development of anyone who will depend on you in the future.
No matter how much you like to go at it alone, don’t ignore the power of a great mentor relationship. Seek out the guidance now so you’ll be ready for the challenges ahead.