5 Lessons Learned From Great Mentors

When it comes to work, everyone is looking for the right leadership advice.


Sixty-one percent of millennials and 41 percent of Gen X-ers polled in recent Pew Research study said they would like to become a boss or top manager someday.


With so many people striving for leadership positions, the real question is how do you get there? Where do you start?


One of the best ways to guide your career path, or reinvigorate your work, is to find a mentor. Mentors help you navigate the big, bad business world and teach you what you need to do to get ahead. They are the person who helps guide you through common work problems, makes recommendations on how to improve your job performance, or even suggests ways to improve your work/life balance.


I have been fortunate to have had great mentors throughout both my professional and personal life who have given me sound advice. I feel an obligation to pay it forward in an impactful way so here is some of my favorite advice I have received.


5 lessons learned from great mentors:


  • TAKE A CHANCE TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT:There are so many great people who feel stuck in their jobs, but have the passion to do something greater. Try it getting involved in the things you are passionate about, even if it’s during your free time at first. Volunteer to be part of a committee at work, or get involved in volunteering with a group outside of your organization. Remember having passion for what you do is half the battle, and it is how you grow not only at your job but as a person.
  • EMBRACE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE:Don’t be surprised if your mentor challenges you with questions or opportunities that might take you outside your comfort zone. Remember the stretch is what maximizes your learning.
  • TALK TO HIGHER-UPS:Don’t be afraid of executives – they are just people who had to start somewhere. I am naturally a shy person, but on my first day of work at DC law firm I was in the elevator with the CEO of the company, and I said, “Hi, I’m new in marketing and wanted to thank you for giving me the opportunity to work here.”  He asked what really interested me about the organization, and later invited me to observe a communication strategy session. In months, I was part of the team that would help plan these meetings.
  • FAILURE ISN’T THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN: I am full of failures – jobs I didn’t get, campaigns that flopped, events that nobody showed up to. I am not going to lie, it sucks. But,remember you only fail if you didn’t learn something from the experience. As cliché as it sounds, treat every failure as an opportunity to grow.
  • BE KIND: Sounds like the same advice you remember learning in kindergarten, but you wouldn’t believe how many people forget to be kind to each other. A simple thank you, smile or just saying hello can make a difference to someone’s day.


And remember when looking for mentor, don’t force it:


  • BE ORGANIC: Since a mentor can be anyone who provides support and guidance, mentoring relationships are not clearly defined or labeled. Mentors don’t always need to be bosses or even someone in your field. Mentoring relationships can be formed in different ways – formal or informal. Find someone you admire and trust – you and your prospective mentor will know if this has the potential of a long-term mentoring relationship


To serve as a mentor is to share one’s energy and wisdom, to guide and council in a most authentic way. Done well, it is a relationship that yields lifelong benefits to the mentee and mentor.


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