Mentorship Myths To Stop Believing

When we set out to begin our careers there are certain people we tend to gravitate towards for their advice and support. These individuals can range from former professors, friends, family members and even former bosses. Whether you realize it or not, these people are considered your mentors.

There are many questions surrounding how to actually ask someone to be your mentor and eventually what you should discuss when meeting him or her. These qualms are understandable considering a mentor-mentee relationship can be very important when developing your career. Even the most successful and established professionals can always learn more and a mentor plays a key role in this growth.

Given the importance of mentorship, finding a mentor can be a major stressor for early career professionals. However, it doesn’t need to be. The stress of finding a mentor is one of many myths surrounding mentorship. Entrepreneur and Shark Tank “Shark,” Robert Herjavec says there are three major myths surrounding mentorship that we need to stop believing.

Myth #1: You Should Formally Request A Mentor Relationship

Herjavec says, “In my opinion, you don’t want to flat out ask, ‘Will you be my mentor?’ Instead take a keen interest in the mentor and validate that individual.”

Fostering a mentor-mentee relationship can be as simple as asking someone for an informational interview to learn about his or her career and how they got to that point. A key to remember is that, like any relationship, a mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street. No one wants to feel that they are being used and a mentor is no different. Herjavec mentions a few questions that you must ask yourself before entering a mentor-mentee relationship:

  • Why do you want to connect?
  • What are you hoping to get out of it?
  • What will the mentor get out of it?
  • What do you see in the person that you admire?

Myth #2: Your Mentor Should Be Outside Your Current Organization or Above You on The Pay Scale

When thinking of mentors, we usually look for someone who has a job that we aspire to have one day. However, this isn’t always the case. Your peers can be mentors if “you’re leveraging the relationship for consistent guidance and learning,” according to Herjavec.

We tend to seek a mentor in a more senior-level role, since they have likely been in your position before and can provide guidance as you encounter similar challenges. But, just because someone has a similar title as you, it doesn’t mean that they cannot serve as a mentor for your career. Additionally, you do not have to limit your mentor search to someone outside your current company. If you have a colleague who has taken you under his or her wing and helped kickstart your career, they can serve as a mentor as well.

Myth #3: You’re Going to Have One Mentor – Forever!

Similar to how you’re most likely not going to have the same job forever, your mentors may change throughout your career as well. At different stages of your career you are going to be learning different things and need advice for different situations.

A mentor doesn’t have to be limited to just your career, either. You can have different mentors for different components of your life: career, family, etc. The more viewpoints from different people, the more information you’ll have to make the best decision for you.

If you have had the same mentor throughout your career, great! While this isn’t always the case, your relationship with a mentor doesn’t have to end to begin a relationship with a new one.

Final Thoughts

Mentorship can be summed up in a simple quote from Albert Einstein, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” Having an influential mentor can take your career to new heights that you previously didn’t think were possible. Finding a mentor has previously been thought of as a pretty stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be. By keeping it simple and not believing the aforementioned myths, you may realize that you already have a few mentors in your life.

Robert Herjavec sums up the importance of mentorship with three thoughts:

  • You have to be curious.
  • You have to position yourself.
  • You have to be accountable for your goals.

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