September 11, 2012

Mentors Are Your Personal Board of Directors

As students return to school and the hot summer days of baseball, barbeques, water slides and vacation fade, we begin to feel the enticement of shifting directions. The wind whispers promises of cooler breezes, leaves transform to gold and the holidays are tiptoeing around the corner. Autumn is a wonderful time to revisit personal goals and evaluate where we are and what we can do to move forward.

No matter what age or what stage we’re at, we don’t have to reach for our aspirations alone. A software executive at General Electric said, “We tend to think of mentors purely in context of work, but work is just part of your whole life. You need mentors for each part of your life – who, together, represent a personal board of directors.”

By thinking “life,” not just career, we can expand our selection of mentors who serve as teachers, coaches, and guides into a board of directors that jointly oversees our personal growth. Here are some tips on choosing mentors and being a great protégé:

Find the Balance

Make a list of what is important to you like work, family, financial security, a new career, community, spirituality and hobbies. Have you placed too much emphasis on any one or two areas? Which area(s) do you need to spotlight and explore finding a mentor?

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Choose mentors wisely. Find someone who is committed to your connection, will invest time, doesn’t see you as a threat, and wants you to succeed. While we all appreciate hearing when we’re brilliant, be prepared for candid feedback, tough truths, and grueling learning lessons.

Surrounded by Winners

Mentors and protégés are people we can learn from and gain insight. It’s a two-way street. Look for and be a person that never compromises integrity, maintains professionalism, and displays intelligence.  Consider that character development includes mature accountable behavior. Winners are never afraid to ask anyone for help, especially when striving to enrich life. 

Mentors Aren’t Fairy Godmothers or Fathers

Over expectation is an acute problem and one of the reasons mentor/protégé relationships fail. Focus on your responsibility to learn new tasks, new thinking patterns, and new performance standards. Remember you are the captain of your dreams and the soldier of your goals.  

Written by Susan Fix, The Applied Companies Community Liaison Partner. Fix has worked 15 years in staffing services performing outside sales, recruiting, permanent and temporary placement coordination, career counseling, customer service and social media/business.

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