A mentor doesn’t have to be some high-level executive at your company who has been in the business for over 40 years and makes three times your salary. Mentors aren’t always a seasoned professional who takes you under their wing and shows you the path to success.
The best mentors are hiding all around us.
Everywhere you look, there’s an adviser… someone you can teach you something, whether it’s how to do your job more effectively, or simply how to treat the people around you.
Think about your community… your peers, your friends, your family… any of them can give you a new insight. In fact, many of them have probably already acted as a mentor to you without you even realizing it!
If you’re having trouble brainstorming people in your circle who can offer helpful advice, here are 3 “secret” mentors that I’ve found hiding in my own life.
I can’t tell you how much I have learned about my professional development, and just life in general, from reading the work of and following the career progression of people I find to be influential.
Not only did they help me to grow, but they also put their knowledge and expertise out into the world for anyone (including you!) to learn from. We can share mentors with thousands of other people and still be learning like crazy from them.
Who offers you inspiration? Are there people who are doing meaningful work that you want to model yourself after? Authors, speakers, or even celebrities?
Start reading their books, blogs, articles… anything you can find. World class mentors don’t always have to be right in front of you, sometimes they guide you from afar.
Clients, vendors, coworkers… just about anyone who you interact with in the workplace can teach you something or give you valuable advice and feedback. There are many coworkers I’ve had over the years who have helped me grow by offering to show me the ropes when I was new.
Even younger professionals, or people who work under you, can act as advisors. They can offer a fresh perspective on your ideas to help you see things through a different lens.
Tap into your diverse community. Find out what has worked for your peers. Talk through your ideas with a coworker. Get a kick of inspiration from a family member.
Anyone around you can have a meaningful piece of advice to share. Asking good questions and being quiet long enough to listen and create value from the nuggets others share is the skill that unlocks mutual mentoring.
Originally, I said that those high-level executives didn’t really act as a mentor for me, but the truth is, in a way, they did. It just wasn’t the way I was expecting. It didn’t fit my idea of what a mentor should look like.
Many of these individuals who didn’t have time for me, or who couldn’t make space for my need to grow and learn, showed me exactly how not to act. From these people, I learned what is right and what isn’t. I learned the negative impacts that came from their actions, and I vowed that I never wanted to be like them. So I worked and learned how to do it differently. Very effective mentoring!
A mentor can be anyone… a coworker, a client, your favorite author, the mailman… they all have something valuable to teach us. Even my kids have been such important mentors to me. They tell it like it is, and can have deeply revealing insights that change the way you think!
So start to look around. New mentors are always around… ready to guide, inspire, and help you grow.