Importance of Mentors/Professional Influences

I write this as I watch Good Will Hunting and think about my own professional influences. Also, my internet is down, which is a burden. As the saying goes, it’s WHO you know, not what you know. However, who you know, greatly impacts what you know and that is very important at all rungs of the ladder. My life is filled with influences from a professional stand point that lasted from brief encounters, to semesters in college, to years at a job and longer (and hopefully longer still). Matt Damon’s character in Good Will Hunting, a certifiable genuis with infinite potential, goes through life into his college age with no positive influences. While he is the envy of his friends, intelligent and seemingly care free, he seemingly lacks fulfillment. One of my favorite movies of all-time. Those positive mentor roles enter his life and from there his character tranforms his primary persona. Regardless of the end of the movie and if that is what you expected/hoped would happen, the role models in his life did generate a positive change. Parents, teachers, friends, bosses, co-workers, etc. can play a mentor role in an individuals life and be a positive long lasting influence. 

I have had many influences that taught me the importance of hard work. Influences that taught me the importance of building professional relationships. Influences that taught me the importance of having a plan. Influences that taught me about looking out for myself. Influences that taught me that in business…at the end of the day, it has to be simply about business and nothing else. These individuals have shaped me into who I am today.

I have worked for a number of mentors/bosses in my time, including my parents, who I consider the greatest influences in my life. My dad, my top role model and my mother, co-top role model. Both hard working, intelligent, successful people with a significant variety of influences and career paths. They taught me on one hand the importance of hard work and dedication to a career and the value of customer service and interpersonal relationships. The other hand has shown me the balance and commitment to family and personal goals. The one thing that I take away from both of them the most is their positive impact they have on others and the time that they have spent putting their own goals and agendas to the side. 

As a potential mentor, I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity and passing on knowledge and learning. It’s amazing what you can continue to learn when you take advantage of the opportunity to teach. You often learn more from teaching and guiding others than from watching and actively learning from others. 

“A mentor is someone that allows you to see the hope inside yourself” – Oprah Winfrey. Yes, I like quotes, but this will be the only one from Oprah. 

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramind comes to mind when thinking about that quote and the potential mentor role that you can play in someone’s life. It’s easy to help yourself or someone else fulfill the lower levels of the pyramid and we can spend a significant amount of time fulfilling the physiological, safety/security, belonging/love and esteem level. However, we don’t take time to even look at our self-actualization needs or those of others. 

Anyway….I recommend being a positive influence in someone’s life. It’s not about just giving back. It’s a difficult, time consuming and taxing role. You have to put your own personal and professional goals behind at times to push someone to their potential. It’s worth it and can even help you reach some self-actualization. 

The next topic will likely be something about goals or I am currently working on a significant marketing plan for the association and have a number of thoughts bouncing around in my head that I could use this blog to unlease. Have a good night and good upcoming weekend!

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