Previously, I wrote posts on finding a mentor and cultivating a relationship with a mentor. I promised a follow up post on why it is important to have a mentor. In this post, I give my 5 reasons to have a mentor. There are many more reasons, but I mentioned in a previous post that I like numbers divisible by five.
- Mentors provide experience: Situations like deciding whether to take the new job, apply for a higher position, move across the country, or work with a difficult boss are not new. Your mentor has likely experienced these same challenges and he or she can provide insight on how to navigate whatever challenge you are facing.
- Mentors have networks: People who have been in a profession for several years usually have large networks of contacts within the industry. If your mentor is unable to provide the correct guidance to you for a particular challenge or opportunity, they have access to someone in their network that can help you. A quick introduction from your mentor will grant you access to another mentor.
- Mentors can talk you out of a funk: There have been times in my career, especially now as a leader, when I face moments of self-doubt: I don’t know which way to go and/or I feel like I failed. During those times, I speak with my mentors who listened with a non-judgmental ear, asked the right questions, and usually end the conversation by telling me to what I needed to hear to get back on track.
- Mentors can help you grow as a person: Mentors are an unbiased third party that can with a unique perspective that can reveal your weaknesses and opportunities for growth. All my mentors have identified weaknesses in my skillset or leadership style and worked with me to strengthen those skills. My mentors challenge me, hold me accountable for my actions, and provide me just the right amount of encouragement to keep me moving forward. I would not be where I am today without my mentors putting me through this process several times.
- Mentors can be champions: There’s an old adage in networking, “It’s all about who you know”. There’s an update version that counters that by saying. “It’s not about who you know. It’s about who knows you”. If you cultivate a relationship with your mentor, he or she will be an effective champion for you and provide you with access to opportunities that you may or may not know about. For some of my mentees, I’ve sent their resumes with a glowing recommendation. I know the same has been done for me.
As we are still in the first month of the new year, I hope you make it your goal to find a mentor or two this year.
Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.