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Why You Need A Mentor [No Excuses!]

By Matt Collins

In my blog last month, Why You Should Mentor, I cited the many reasons why it's beneficial to mentor others.

In this post, I’d like to examine the other side of the coin: Why you need a mentor.

Since writing my last post, I came across an article suggesting that getting a mentor is a key career step to accomplish by age 30, which in turn cited a survey from theBoardlist that said 80 percent of executives say having a mentor helps propel your career.

Given the documented benefits of having a mentor, it's shocking to me that so few of us have one.

Yet, we don’t.

There is no excuse, really

Despite the many good reasons why you need a mentor, many dismiss the idea, using a variety of excuses. Let's address some of the more common excuses head on:

I don't have the time. Just as many of us believe we are too busy to be a mentor, we also mistakenly believe we don’t have time to be mentored. This is baffling, as mentoring can so readily contribute to our success. Getting useful guidance and tapping into the experience of others represents a time commitment that is almost certain to pay dividends. In other words, being mentored is not a time commitment so much as an investment in our careers—an investment we should all have time to make!

There aren't any good mentors available to me. If you haven't been able to find a mentor within your existing network, don't be afraid to extend yourself. Mention your desire to people you know who are well-connected, or try a site like Find A Mentor to get professional assistance.

I don't need anyone's help. At least not right now. You don't have to have an immediate need for help to benefit from a mentor. In fact, many of the pieces of advice or the knowledge gained through a mentoring relationship may not prove readily useful for years. Don’t let yourself wind up wishing you had sought out a mentor earlier who could have helped you steer clear of costly mistakes.

What's Your Excuse?I don't want to let them down. Good mentors understand that failure is part of growth. They are there to support you and won't be disappointed by imperfection or failure.

What if they are disinterested or flaky? You're right, there is a chance you will get a less-than-great mentor. But the potential benefits outweigh the risk. Set clear expectations and hold up your end of the bargain. Chances are, they will, too. If not, you can always find someone else.

The valuable roles mentors can play

Everyone's experience is different, but it's recommended to have multiple types of mentors who can provide a variety of insights specific to your growth goals. That said, mentors can play a number of valuable supporting roles for you:

The listening ear

When you're feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted, distressed or angry, your mentor can be there to take it all in without judgment.

The personal cheerleader

Anyone who's read The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale understands the importance of having ongoing encouragement, enthusiasm, and praise. Your mentor can act as a fount of positivity to keep you feeling like the best version of yourself.

The person whose mistakes you can learn from

Learning through trial and error has many merits, but it's also nice to avoid failure by learning from those who have walked the path before us. Your mentor can share lessons learned when they faced similar decisions, challenges, and opportunities.

The idea machine

As part of their investment in you, your mentor will want to help make your goals a reality, and they likely will have a lot of experience accomplishing similar goals themselves. Keep an open mind and let the collaboration train reveal novel approaches to situations you face in the workplace and at home.

The network expander

Chances are you found your mentor via your own network, so you understand the power of networking relationships. But keep in mind that your mentor's network can become yours now, too, giving you access to people who may be at higher levels or in different regions and industries.

What are you waiting for?

Long story short: You need a mentor, as there  are many benefits waiting when you find a good one (or two). And if there's nothing holding you back other than weak excuses you really should find a mentor today!

In future posts, I will discuss how to find a mentor, and how to navigate a successful mentoring relationship.

Matt CollinsMatt Collins is a client manager who collaborates with organizations to select, develop, and promote exceptional leaders. As an adventure-seeker, Matt is always eager to tackle new projects at work, as well as new activities outside of work that recently include archery tag and parkour. What should Matt try next? Send your recommendations to matt.collins@ddiworld.com.

Learn how DDI can help you transform your leaders to transform your business.

Posted: 09 Jun, 2017,

Talk to an Expert: Why You Need A Mentor [No Excuses!]

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