These are the people I first turn to when I need a different perspective, a shade of light when I’m stuck with decisions, or to reach out to a group of people I don’t believe I could do all by myself. These people are my mentors. Just like the character ‘Mentor‘, the friend of Odysseus and tutor of Telemachus, in Homer’s famous Greek poetry ‘Odyssey‘, we all need a mentor who has walked our path and hopefully make it easier for us; and by the way, that’s the poem from where the term was derived!
The history is also filled with famous Mentor-protégé duels! A few of them being Benjamin Graham, a famous economist and professional investor, to Warren Buffet, who later bought Benjamin Graham’s company Geico under his parent company – Berkshire Hathaway! Even the world’s richest man Bill Gates had a mentor – Dr. Ed Roberts, who was the creator of the Altair 8800 microcomputer. Here are another few famous Mentor-protégé duels – Larry Page and Sergey Brin to now Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Madonna to Gwyneth Paltrow, Gopal Krishna Gokhale to Mahatma Gandhi and Mahatma Gandhi to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, Socrates to Plato and Plato to Aristotle.
For me its an entirely different case, I am waggling around different fields at a time and there are always many different things on my plate at any given time. So, I tend to have a few mentors in my respective field of interest to help me when I’m stuck. These are the generous people I have ever met and who don’t mind to share their knowledge and expertise with me. For technology and startups, I tend to stay in touch with Robert Scoble (Chief evangelist at Rackspace); for my writing and marketing works, I have Joanna Penn, James Altucher, Ryan Holiday and Dean Wesley Smith; and for Blogging Harsh Agrawal as my mentors. These are the people who are not only at the top of their respective fields, but humble and helpful when called upon.
7 Reasons why you Ought to have a Mentor
Pin Point your Shortcomings
Many a times it will happen to you that your deeds blind you from your own shortcomings. A person tends to judge others far better than he does for himself. A mentor is that humble and generous person who will pin point you your shortcomings in a way that does not effect your morale or your self-confidence. We as human are made to make mistakes and it is great to have a mentor who will help you from falling into pitfalls in your career.
Mentors help you to set things straight by providing a constructive and relentlessly honest feedback on your perceptions and actions. Knowing your weakness in the perspective of someone experienced makes it easier to actually work on those.
You will seek knowledge
Let’s face it, the relationship between a Mentor and Protege is nothing less than a usual human conversation., and the major gist of these interactions is the sharing of knowledge. You talk with someone to learn more about themselves, their perspective and basically their knowledge on a variety of topics. You can’t know everything about everything and a mentor is your most powerful source for knowledge to get ahead in career.
Mentor-ship is all about knowledge exchange, and remember that this is a two-way relationship and you need to interact in a way that sheds a light on your perception of things and events.
You will know the ‘How’s’ and ‘What’s’
A mentor is the one who acts as our example. Just like children grow into adults by the example of their parents, you forward your career by the guidance of these mentors. The ‘What’s’ are the things that are needed to be done, a specific set of tasks to reach your goal. The ‘How’s’ are the tools that will lead you to your actual destination.
A mentor is the specialist who knows his trade and tools well enough to get you to your destination. We, as normal human beings tend to overlook the smaller details of things which are so obvious to us; but under the guidance of a mentor you master these small details which make up the big picture. You can see it in the acting of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight Trilogy and his dedication to the character – ‘Joker‘. He had Mel Gibson, a very unique and Academy award-winning actor, as his mentor and helped him in perfecting the small details in his performance.
You will become inspired
The best way to achieve success is by adapting the mentality and mindset of these successful mentors. When you start acting and doing things the way they do, you will start seeing beneficial results within no time. Many a times it happens to us that we get bogged down by the things at hand to an extent that we need a dose of inspiration to get things going.
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At times like these, a mentor is a great way to beat procrastinating and actually do things. At the beginning of my writing career, I was flabbergasted at the vast choices of publishing; the industry has to offer now and was stuck with procrastinating about how I will publish my novel and so forth. That’s when my above mentioned mentors helped me, pointing that I need to focus on the writing first and everything else could be sorted out later, and I am now close to completing my second manuscript, and will seek their expertise on publishing now.
You will learn new shortcuts
If there’s a way to get a thing done, there will probably an easier route to it. A mentor is a person who has gone the ‘Tried and Tested’ route. If you are in company of a great mentor, you will rarely have to adopt the ‘Hit and Trial’ method of approaching things. A good mentor will show you the tips and tricks of the industry, which are not that easily accessible to everyone, these are the ‘tricks of the trade’.
Overcoming obstacles and avoiding longer paths completely when working to get things done will make your journey a fruitful one. There is a false notion that shortcuts lead to dead ends and that they emphasis on the greed of humans, but a little bit of greed is good if it is not harmful to your career or someone else’s associated with it.
You will expand your network
This is the most important reason of all to have a mentor. Networking is the most important thing for being successful in your field. The important aspect of networking is building your contacts and an efficient rapport with them. To get things done, you will need the right kind of contacts and a mentor will be your primary source for getting to know these people.
Attend high profile conferences and seminars with your mentors, and you would be amazed at the amount of contacts you can amass at that instance. You can get back to them politely later to keep in contact to approach for your work. For finding my literary agent, I have been visiting a few writers’ conferences in town to get to meet and connect with one. Networking can sometimes grow weary, but that is an essential part of making it big one day in your career!
You will get things done
The most important thing for success in your career- To actually get things done. Putting your words into action is the important of all and a mentor will guide you to get your work done. Like I pointed to it before, I was stuck procrastinating about publishing, my mentors helped me to actually get the real work done, which is by far the most important of all.
A mentor will answer your questions, challenge you and make you believe that it can be done. We usually tend to give ourselves reasons for not achieving our sky high goals. The problem here is not actually in our dreams itself, but our attitude and perception of it. A mentor is the palpable proof that what you are aiming for is achievable and a good mentor will always help you achieve your goals.
So, what are your thoughts on having a mentor in your career, and if so, who is your mentor? Shout out your thoughts and comments below.