Right from birth, we have always had someone to direct us; whether in the form of a parent, teacher, sports coach or line manager. It is inevitable as human beings that we must be led or directed; even our leaders have leaders. A mentor is someone who is where you want to be, or one who you believe knows how to get you there. A mentor is not a babysitter who tells you what to do, rather, your mentor is like a sat nav in a car - he/she will only give direction but you must decide to drive towards that direction yourself. But why do we need a mentor I hear you ask?
A mentor will have more experience in life and in your industry than you do (if your mentor isn't more experienced than you then he/she shouldn't be your mentor). A mentor would have made certain mistakes that he/she can advise you to avoid. As such, having a mentor would not only increase your chances of becoming successful, but also quicken the process. Below are some illustrations how:
As human beings we are good at pointing out how skilled we are at things. However, we rarely attempt to highlight or think about our negative attributes. A mentor is that person who will not only tell you how great you have done, but also identify certain areas of development and improvement you ought to focus on. This is crucial for professional development as true success lies in every weakness we convert to strength.
Their Network Becomes Your Network
This is probably the most important reason of having a mentor. "Everyone needs someone to become a someone". I previously mentioned that your mentor should be someone who has more expertise in your industry than you do; with that comes a robust network because the fact remains that Your mentors' networks will become yours, meaning each time they introduce you to someone, you indirectly represent them in that particular relationship (therefore do not abuse this). Again utilizing their network will only speed up your journey to success.
Depending on the personality of your mentor or the kind of relationship you have with your mentor, they could also be the person you go to to discuss some personal issues. Let's be real, every now and again we all need someone to talk to - It is always a good healthy feeling to get stuff off your chest.
Some Extra Points
•Sometimes we may attach ourselves to the wrong personality as our mentor. Perhaps someone who doesn't believe we can achieve our ambitious goals, or someone who isn't supportive, or perhaps someone we may have outgrown as a mentor. Don't be afraid however, to let go of your mentor professionally; at the end of the day, it is your career and success at hand. If someone isn't adding value, then they are subtracting value
•Try to add value to your mentors by taking an interest in what they do for a living, or even their personal hobby. It is not necessary to do so, but a mentee who equally adds value to their mentor will only strengthen and make the relationship more enjoyable.
•Don't be afraid to have more than one mentor. If you are the type that believes in multiple streams of income or you like to diversify your portfolio, then you'll need an expert (mentor) for each income stream.
A mentor is indispensable in getting you to the next level in your career and enhancing your prospects of success. It is never too late to get a mentor, simply because the road to success has no destination, but a constant journey of development and self-assessment till the day you die. So get one today!