“If I hadn’t had mentors, I wouldn’t be here today. I am a product of great mentoring and great coaching.” ~ Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
You are creative. You are brilliant. You are a force to be reckoned with. You’re breathing life into your own business or you’re contributing to someone else’s; either way, you’re a successful professional with great ideas and immense potential. You’ve got a handle on it, right? You don’t need a guide. You’re self-navigating like a pro.
Listen, as a woman who leads the second largest food and beverage business in the world, it’s safe to assume that perhaps Indra Nooyi knows a thing or two about success. Right? As you can see in the quote above, Nooyi feels strongly about the value of mentorship. Maybe it’s time to you consider a mentor for yourself and these 5 reasons will show you why:
Mentors Expose the Gaps
Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know until we know it. You may think you’ve got all your ducks in a row. In reality, however, the third duck in line is slightly off track and the fifth duck never made it to the party. Someone that’s walked this path before, or walked a section of it, may notice skill and knowledge gaps before we discover them the hard way. “Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults that we would like. It’s the only way we grow,” said George Lucas.
Mentors Share Knowledge
Even if you’ve given birth to the most original idea to hit the market since the wheel, there are lessons to learn from the folks who have blazed trails before you. You’re a talented baker who wants to share your culinary wizardry with the world. As you start to roll out your business, you realize that maybe cooking this company up isn’t as easy as you thought.
Listen to the wisdom of Joe Jonas who said, “A lot of people put pressure on themselves and think it will be way too hard for them to live out their dreams. Mentors are there to say, ‘Look, it’s not that tough. It’s not as hard as you think. Here are some guidelines and things I have gone through to get to where I am in my career.” Your mentor(s) can help you learn how to write a business plan, give you the courage to really charge what those cakes are worth, nudge you to delegate tasks outside your core competency, and help you navigate the nuances between branding and marketing.
Orpah Winfrey noted, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” That thing you want to do – birth your own business, climb the corporate ladder, go back to school – your mentor has already been there, done that. Not only can she help you identify what skills you need to develop to get where you want to go, she can also shine a light upon the strengths you already possess. She can identify in you the things that helped her make the climb. Her finish line may be different than yours, but she’s still a reminder that goals can be set and goals can be met.
Mentors Keep It Real
You know those early days of a new venture, when our heads are full of ideas and dreams and we think we can conquer the world in a fortnight? In those days, motivation is easy to find. As the process drags on, however, we can lose enthusiasm and motivation. It’s not going as fast as we dreamed it would. We’re meeting challenges we didn’t think we’d have. Maybe we think about giving up and moving on to something new. A mentor can help you discern whether you’re right to call it quits or whether you need a nudge to move forward despite the speed bumps. Remember, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.”
Mentors Cheer Us On
Even mentors need mentors. As CEO of Creative Blueprints and author of Love Your Life: Cultivating Your Vision and Tending Your Dreams, my work is helping others identify their visions and live into their dreams. You’d think with the skills and experience connected to the job, I wouldn’t need a mentor, right? Wrong. In fact, I am where I am today in part because I take the opportunity to lean on other successful individuals who can bolster me up, encourage me, inspire me, and help me flesh out my own dreams. I think Denzel Washington said it best:
“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”