Self confidence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success, Your Success GPS and 42 Rules to Jumpstart your Professional Success. You can become self confident by doing three things. First, choose optimism. Believe in your heart of hearts that today will be better than yesterday, and that tomorrow will be better than today. Second, face your fears and act. Procrastination and inaction feed fear and rob you of self confidence. Action cures fear. Third, surround yourself with positive people. Don’t let the naysayers into your life. Hang around with people who are positive about themselves, their careers and life in general.
Mentors, by definition, are positive people. They are willing to share their wisdom and experience to help others learn and grow. When you were young, I bet you looked to your parents and other adults for guidance and help in learning how to survive in the world. I know I did. We relied on these people to teach us what we needed to know to get through life.
Now, just like then, we all need others to teach us what we need to know to achieve personal and professional success. These people are our mentors.
The term “mentor” comes from The Odyssey. Odysseus entrusted the care of his son, Telemachus, to Mentor when he set out to fight the Trojan War. The best mentors will help you learn and grow by sharing their knowledge and wisdom with you. In this way, you can benefit from their experience without having to suffer the consequences of gaining that experience firsthand.
I have been fortunate to have had several mentors in my life and career. All of them shared several characteristics. They all…
- Were willing to share their wisdom, knowledge, skills and expertise.
- Had a positive outlook on life. They helped me through tough times and showed me how to find the opportunity in the difficulties I was facing.
- Were genuinely concerned about me and my success. In addition to being knowledgeable, they were empathic.
- Really knew what they were doing. I respected them for their knowledge and skills.
- Kept growing themselves. All of my mentors were curious and inquisitive. Sometimes the roles were reversed. They asked what I was reading, and then read the books themselves – so they could learn and we could discuss the ideas.
- Gave me direct, constructive feedback. They held me to high standards. They congratulated me when I met their expectations. They corrected me when I failed to do so – but in a manner where I learned what not to do the next time.
- Were respected by their colleagues. Choosing someone who is highly regarded in his or her field or company is one of the best ways to identify a mentor.
- Sought out and valued the opinions of others. My best mentor always told me to listen most carefully to the people with whom I disagreed – in that way I might learn something. And, he was right.
Mentors are people whose hindsight can become your foresight.
I think that finding and working with a mentor is so important to building your self confidence and creating a successful life and career that I have created an acronym for the word “mentor.”
A Good Mentor…
M Motivates you do accomplish more than you think you can.
E Expects the best from you.
N Never gives up on you or lets you give up on yourself.
T Tells you the truth – even when it hurts.
O Occasionally kicks your butt.
R Really cares about you and your success.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are self confident. Self confident people surround themselves with positive people. They find mentors to help them build their self confidence. Mentors are positive people because they are willing to give of themselves to help others succeed. When you’re looking for a mentor, look for someone who is highly skilled, is a lifelong learner, is respected by his or her colleagues, has a positive outlook on life and is willing to provide you with direct, constructive feedback. When you find the right mentor you won’t have to go it alone on the road to career and life success.
That’s my take on mentors, self confidence and success. What’s yours? Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. Better yet, give a shout out to one of your mentors. As always, thanks for reading.