How mentors can make a difference in your career

I wish I had a dollar (or a Euro) for every instance in my life where I have read or talked with someone about mentors or mentorship.  If I did have this currency, and it would be a pile, it would only serve to further emphasize the importance and value of having and utilizing the appropriate mentor when the situation arises.  I used the word “appropriate” and “situation” for very real reasons and I hope these reasons will be very clear as I write more today about the value of Mentors    in your career.  I will highlight a few mentors from my career to better describe how the appropriate and situational phrases make sense in this context.

My first mentor was a gentleman named Mike that I had the opportunity to work with during the manufacturing portion of my career.  It just so happened that Mike was my boss also, but that direct reporting relationship did not detract from the mentoring component of our working relationship.  Mike was a mentor in many ways and he helped me to better grasp how to work more effectively with others and he also taught me a great deal about how to motivate and inspire others in the workplace.  During this period we were both working in an automotive manufacturing startup operation and we both played integral roles in helping this company grow from a skeleton crew of 12 in 1989 to over 350 when I left in 1994.  This same period also helped produce my second mentor, a woman named Tena.  More about her in a minute.

While I was working in the company described above I had the opportunity to try many different roles over a 6 year period.  One of those roles was a the start of a training and development function for the enterprise.  Tena served in an OD (organizational development) role for one of our parent organizations and she was invaluable in helping me understand not only about the role I would be playing, but she also helped me grasp the value and significance of self awareness    in both my personal and professional life.  It is no surprise that Tena was not the only female mentor I have had, since I find that women are typically much more intuitive than men.  Again, the improvement of my personal self awareness and the value of helping others do the same was a hallmark of my time working with Tena.

A third mentor came along right after I left the manufacturing world and this mentor came with a name of George.  George had worked in the ministry as well as the non profit world and he helped me grasp just how much of a difference I could make in the lives of others outside of my former role in the manufacturing world.  Alas, my friendship and working relationship was cut short with George when the Lord took him back to Heaven a few years after we first got to know one another, but the impact of my mentoring relationship with George will never be forgotten.  I have only deepened my non profit roles during the years that have passed since my friendship with George.

Three mentors with three totally different circumstances and learning’s for me in my life and my career.  Mike, Tena and George were so willing to help and listen as I went through different developmental stages in my life and I would not be the person I am today without the valuable input and feedback they each provided to me.

Who are mentors you have had in your life?

What kind of mentor are you seeking now?

Having a timely and appropriate mentor can  make a lifetime of difference.  Mike, Tena and George all made an impact on me that will never be forgotten.