MENTORSHIP AND THE 7 STEPS TO BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER!
Mentoring will always be an important avenue to the executive suite. It’s a sad but real fact that hard work, education and talent are not enough to take a person to the top. That is why it is so critical to forge connections and contacts in and out of the corporate corridors. I believe that organized corporate mentoring programs can be one of the most successful ways to not just shatter but eliminate the glass ceiling in corporate America. This mentoring takes the form of guidance, counsel and, in many cases, access and exposure to the kinds of positions and assignments that will help women and people of color develop the desired management skills required to succeed in business. Women and people of color in particular must be willing to reach out across cultural and gender lines to cultivate mentors.
Ask any successful person about their career and most will tell you that while they certainly worked hard to get to where they are, a few people have been instrumental in helping them achieve success. I am a big proponent of mentoring. I have been blessed in my life to have a group of loving, supportive, and encouraging people whom I affectionately call “my council of wise people.” Both as an employee for various companies and now as an entrepreneur/business owner, there are 7 basic principles by which I have conducted my personal and professional life.
These principles have been invaluable to my career and business growth.
1. THINK POSITIVE – Positive people have a way of attracting positive outcomes. Smile and the world smiles with you – frown and the world avoids you. Ever notice how people avoid those whose attitude and demeanor are depressing and negative? Everyone likes being in the company of someone who sees the upside of a situation.Confidence is possible only if you believe in your ability to succeed. Negativity and negative attitudes will undermine your chances of moving up the corporate ladder and succeeding. These two credos have been my mantra: “A positive attitude creates positive results and if it is to be it is up to me.”
2. CREATE A COUNCIL OF WISE PEOPLE – Create your very own personal board of directors who can serve as your mentors and advisors. They don’t have to necessarily be in your line of work or industry. They just have to be people you personally admire and would like to emulate. These are people you should meet with a least once a quarter. Find someone within your company who can serve as your mentor/advocate. Your mentor doesn’t have to be the same ethnicity or gender. Some of my best mentors are men. They have been in the business arena longer and they are still the majority in the business arena.
3. MAKE YOURSELF AN INDISPENSABLE EMPLOYEE – Erase the “that’s not in my job description,” from your vocabulary. Always make your Boss look good – your job is to enhance their job. There is wisdom in the proverb a still tongue keepeth a wise head. Don’t develop the reputation as a gossip or someone who can’t keep confidences. Whenever you are handed a tough task, bend over backwards to get it done and do it WELL. See this as an opportunity to make a good impression. Companies promote and retain people who act as if no assignment is too much or too difficult. Whiners, complainers and naysayer well we know happen to those people in tough economic times – they get weeded out.
4. KEEP YOUR SPIRITUAL BALANCE – In the frenetic, hectic day to day work environment of busy executives, it’s easy to get out of balance. Take time to connect with your authentic self, your higher power. Take a few minutes everyday for yourself. Get some exercise. Read a good book, take a hot bath. You are not the energizer bunny. Your energy will radiate at work, home and through all you do when you take time to relax, refresh and renew your body, mind and spirit,.
5. MAINTAIN YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR – Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does. Research shows that laughter affects health, creativity, relationships and the quality of life. Poke fun at yourself not at others. Humor can lighten up the workplace, reduce stress and builds teamwork and productivity. Show the world your beautiful smile even on your down days.
6. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKE – Unfortunately, we live in a time when blame is the name of the game. Well guess what you get when you take the B out of Blame? You get L-A-M-E. Don’t let lame excuses prevent you from taking personal responsibility for your mistakes. Forget the mistake but keep the lesson. Ask yourself how can I take this experience and make it a positive one? What can I learn from this? How do I move forward and not repeat this mistake?
7. BE GRATEFUL FOR ALL YOU HAVE – Make “the attitude of gratitude” your daily mantra! Be thankful for what you have and where you are in your life right now. When I was a child my mother always sang to my siblings and I, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” By being grateful for the good things in your life you signal the Universe that you are open and receptive to receiving more good. Make a commitment to share your gratitude by remembering others at special times in their lives. Find thoughtful ways to say “thank you” to the special people in your life. Create a gratitude journal and give thanks each night for five things you appreciated in your life that day.
A quote by Winston Churchill sums up my thoughts on mentoring: “You make a living by what you do, but you make a life from what you give.”