Yes, YOU Can Be a Mentor
If you replayed the story of your career, including the jobs outside of your current career and internships you held in college, there were likely some moments you wish you had handled things differently. What you know now could have really helped you back then, but you survived and thrived. You stand today with years of colorful stories to tell of when you dusted yourself off and refocused on the next rung in your career ladder. To say you didn’t succeed in those moments is an understatement; looking back, you’re not sure how your career survived at all. Well, there is someone who needs to hear those stories.
There are less-tenured individuals working around you who think any mistake will end their careers. These people look at you and think every career step you’ve taken was metered and a direct path to your “next step.” Every career change on your resume seems calculated and planned. Those around you who are just starting out have no idea that the person standing in front of them, the person they admire, had moments of failure that caused you to talk yourself into trying again. Wouldn’t it be helpful for them to hear how you moved on and kept pushing forward? Your idea of a mentor might be someone who is a CEO, Senior Vice President, or Executive Director, but that’s not always true. A good mentor comes at any level. The key to mentoring is not your position but, rather, your ability to share what you’ve learned, how you kept going, and what you would tell your younger self if you had the chance.
Your ability to regroup and persevere through the many fluctuations of the organization, the changes in your career functions and changes in your personal life are things that have given you strength in yourself and in your career. Where you stand now looks and feels great because it came from ups and downs that could have caused a halt in your progression, but didn’t. You didn’t stop grinding—you kept going. You decided to get up the next day and try again. Your story can revive someone who might want to give up. Your story can give someone else the shot of inspiration to take on a new project or more responsibility. Sharing your story of reset might also help you revive your career rut into a new place. Highlighting mistakes you’ve made in your career can spark a new idea and catapult growth in unknown areas. All of these are reasons you qualify to be a mentor to someone.
Living Testimony – The fact that you have a vibrant career and are respected by your peers puts truth to your story. Sharing what you’ve recovered from will inspire someone else, showing with every mistake you learned, adjusted and kept going.
Found your way back – Every career journey has places where a person gets off track. Maybe it was taking a position that didn’t do anything for your career or taking on a project that left you at a standstill. Whatever the sidetrack was, you were able to refocus and eventually get back on track.
A Daily Reminder – Knowing the details about some of your failures and seeing you in the office every day grinding and shining is a reminder to any mentee that she can get there if she just keeps going. Seeing you organizing the projects, leading the direction of the client, and being called upon by upper management for your input are all signs that failure is just a small moment in the larger picture. One, two, maybe even a few failures didn’t end your career, so it won’t end her career, either.
The Dust Off – It’s one thing for someone to rebound after a mistake or failure, but it’s quite another to dust yourself off and let change happen. To show someone how to learn from her missteps and be comfortable enough with the discomfort of change to incorporate what she’s learned into her everyday life is probably one of the bigger examples to expose someone to. If a person can let go of believing the way she’s planned is the only way, then it will be much easier for her to move forward.
Before you pass another person in the hall and between the cubicles just saying “Hi,” stop to remind yourself that you were once there, and someone stopped to share some career shortfalls she had with you. Remember how it made you feel when you tried and didn’t succeed it realized it would all be OK. Be the one to give someone else that same feeling.