In the past months I gave a lot of thought to my career trajectory: successful moves so far, how to prepare for the next step, how to become better at what I do. As I was going through this mental exercise, I realized the importance of my mentors and of the lessons I learned from them. I don’t know the correct definition of a mentor; in fact I don’t know if there even is one.
For me a mentor is that person that is genuinely interested in my development as a person and a professional, with significant life and work experience under their belt, a good listener ready to give advice and answers to my silly questions without judging, and capable of seeing a situation or problem that I may be dealing with from a different angle. A mentor will also help me push my limits and discover new things about what I can do and achieve. It all may sound simple, but it’s not that easy to find these great folks to support you. If during your first meeting with your new mentor he says: “think of me as your father: you can brag or complain. I’m not your manager.”, you know you hit the jackpot.
And there are a few things or lessons if you want, that stuck with me throughout the years. These are true landmarks that I go back to when I feel lost or overwhelmed or when I don’t know where to start (a task, a project, a new job…).
1. Have authentic conversations. Be genuine and people will respond in a similar way. Don’t just scratch the surface, the essence is underneath. Listed actively, ask meaningful questions, be there, grounded in the conversation. You will discover a new world, and maybe, a new person in front of you.
2. Create your own experiences. Do not wait for people to tell you what to do. Choose where you want to make an impact and take the lead. You own your job, career and life.
3. Think about how you want to be perceived by others and present yourself like that in everything you do, be it a slide, a conversation, a meeting or a formal review. You can transform yourself, discover new abilities and become that person you want to be.
This is not all I learned from these wise people that play such an important role in my life, but these 3 things are constantly in my mind. And this is what helped me find and shape my path. I can only hope it will help you find yours as well.