Do you need a mentor to have a successful career?

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Common advice says that if you want to move ahead in your career, you need to find a mentor. However, it can be difficult to find a mentor who will agree to share their skills, knowledge, and expertise while helping you set career goals, resolve difficult problems, and connect with professional contacts. Even if you can find someone willing to dedicate their time to your development, do you need a mentor to be successful?

Career communications strategist Kelly Donovan believes you do, and refers to her own mentor relationship:

You need to be mentored by someone who has been there. This is true whether your goal is career advancement, changing careers, or growing a business.

You would be amazed how many successful people have had mentors along the way who helped them. In fact, I suspect that most successful people have probably been mentored at some point.

Ilya Pozin, founder of OpenMe, says that most people aren’t lucky enough to have a mentor and that in most cases, people can step up to be their own mentor:

Maybe you work under a manager who’s too swamped to offer guidance, or your workplace lacks a formal mentorship program. Regardless, it’s completely possible to initiate a level of leadership to gain your own mentorship perspective and even benefit your coworkers in the process.

Part of the challenge might be rethinking what mentoring should look like. Is it having someone offer you one-on-one guidance or is it building a support group of people who offer you advice? Perhaps the question shouldn’t focus on finding a mentor, but rather on being clear about the kind of support you need and finding it.

What do you think? Does it take a mentor to be successful in today’s workplace? What does mentoring look like? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Photo Credit: docstockmedia, Shutterstock

About Author

Social Media and Editorial Intern at Idealist.org

2 Comments

  1. One of the most effective ways that we process information and learn new skills is through engaging with other people–that’s why books are good, but book groups are even better. So, yes, a mentor who doesn’t just give advice, but also helps you stretch into new ways of thinking about your professional life is invaluable. But no one has a monopoly on that, and even if you are lucky enough to have a great mentor, seeking out support and knowledge from a wide array of contacts makes a lot of sense. The more people you think with, the broader your thinking will be.

  2. That’s why we have schools (i.e. high school, college, trade school, tech school, military, etc…)

    I don’t believe we need mentors to be successful in life. Everyone defines SUCCESS differently too.

    For instance, if you learn a craft and continue to hone that craft, then maybe, just maybe, the “teachers” that you learn from are your mentors in life.

    If you are an athlete, your “coach” or your “trainer” is or can be a mentor because they might motivate you when you are having a bad training day or getting ready for a game, fight, or match.

    But, in LIFE, I don’t believe in all this crap of LIFE COACHES or MASTERMINDS…..they are nothing more than snake oil to get people to buy their books, CD’s, DVD’s, seminars, meetings, coaching, etc…

    At some point in ones life, we have to say “Hell No”, I am who I am and I will motivate myself and be what I want and I don’t need to keep up with the jones’s or try to gain more and more. You can be content with what you have up to a point and your success can be a SIMPLE LIFE.

    Do we need FELLOWSHIP, yes, God wants us to have that to become better people and to share LOVE with one another. I agree with being part of a group in that since or having friends to build us up and remind us of who we are so we don’t get to big headed in life.

    I believe not everyone needs to keep learning new skills. There comes a time in life where, unless you are in a educated profession of teacher, coach, trainer, doctor, lawyer, etc… then you need to do what’s called CEC’s or CEU’s to maintain your credentials, certificate, or license.

    But, if you are someone that is in a labor job or run a business where you are providing a service, then the only things you need to keep learning is how to create a better service or product to please your consumer. That has to come within our own heart and mind. You may or may not get new ideas from being part of a Mastermind Group or Business Group, it all depends, it can be very selective and challenging.

    In the end, seeking out a mentor is for folks that I believe don’t have the insight, drive, motivation, determination or grit to figure shit out on their own.

    We all don’t have to see out people. Some of the greatest minds in the world and prophets, did much introspective thinking and sought out only one person, GOD, to help guide them on their path of enlightenment or doing what some may call a success.

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