In recent months I have been doing a “self-evaluation” on my professional life – trying to figure out what kind of architect I want to be “when I grow up”. I’ve been asking myself those type of questions that one asks when it’s unclear what the future holds…What do I see myself doing in ten years? What makes me happy? What am I passionate about? I think it’s something everyone goes through, or at least I hope that’s the case… And while I haven’t answered many, if any, of the questions above I have, along this journey, sought advice from a few people I consider to be not only mentors, but also friends.
Recently, while having coffee with someone who I consider both a friend and mentor, I remembered why it is so important to have a good mentor – to have that person to talk candidly to about what’s going right and what’s not making sense in your career, or life for that matter. Those candid conversations are sometime the most important conversations to have, not only with yourself but with someone you trust and respect. That is exactly the type of conversation we had. Not having seen my mentor in some time, I quickly caught him up on the past year – the successes, the failures, the hurdles, and the questions about my future that have started filling my mind. Throughout our conversation I began to feel encouraged again, I felt a sense of restored confidence in myself, and I got excited about the unknown. I was encouraged by his words and openness about his own professional struggles.
After my meeting I realized just what the word “mentor” meant to me…A mentor is there to listen – answer questions you might have, calm your fears of the unknown, and give advice whether it’s been sought after or not. A mentor should know your dreams, know what you’re passionate about, and where your heart lies. A mentor is someone who encourages you to chase those dreams and offer the resources to make sure you achieve them. A mentor should pick you up when you are feeling defeated. A mentor should be someone who can say, “I’ve been there before”. A mentor should be invested in your future and dedicated to your success.
You see mentoring is more than just being the person that shows you how to put together details, tosses you redlines over the cubical walls, or takes you out to lunch from time to time to “check in”. A mentor should be invested in your future and excited to see you thrive – it’s through that investment and commitment to you that they are able to be all those things I listed above.
Mentoring. It’s a topic that seems to keep coming up in conversation. It’s a topic that we all have written about in the past and will keep writing about in the future. Mentoring is a topic of importance and I encourage everyone to keep spreading the word. As we embark on a New Year I would, once again, encourage you all to go find a good mentor. One that is invested in your future, one that will support you and encourage you, one that you can look up to and aspire to become one day. Find a mentor that will become, after only a few coffee sessions together, your friend.