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Mentoring is a Key to Career Success

22 08 2006

In the past year I have been asked by three Fortune 100 companies to give multiple presentations on mentoring — does that tell you this might be an important topic?

Here is the hard truth: your career is your responsibility. We no longer live in a business world of guaranteed employment - at the most all a company will offer you is “employability” (i.e. training and experience for the next job you move on to). So if you want to move ahead and succeed – you do NOT need a mentor… you need a vast network of “Power Mentors” to help you on your way.

I would like to borrow key ideas from two respected colleagues to describe to you what I feel is the critical path to career success. The first is Tim Sanders who wrote a great little book called: Love is the Killer App in which he said there are three elements to building a successful career:

1. Knowledge: you must be bright, sharp, smart and talented in a skill that is valuable in the market place.
2. Network: a lot of the right people need to know how smart and valuable you are (this is your mentoring network!!!)
3. Love: You must be a person of love. Of honesty, integrity and clear values.

If a lot of the right people know you are an honest, talented and valuable person… you have career security (and I think this is about the only way to get it).

The second idea I’d like to lean on is one that is probably well known to you, but not in this context. I am referring to the three-circle “Hedgehog” concept put forth by Jim Collins in his seminal book Good to Great. In this foundational idea Jim talks about the three things to focus on: core competency + passion + strong economic driver – and that where those three things overlap is the sweet spot on which truly great companies are built. My point: I believe it is exactly same for building a great career. What are you genetically hardwired to do well, that you love to do and that is very valuable in the market place? Again, I don’t think you can find these on your own, you need mentors to help you here too.

I will finish on what I feel is the most important thing I have ever learned (so far):

You become what you focus on and like the people you spend time with.

If the above statement is true (and I passionately believe it is) you need as many really good power mentors as you can find!

What do you think? © John Spence

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