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Published on September 1, 2020

What Is a Mentor And Why You Should Find One For Yourself?

What Is a Mentor And Why You Should Find One For Yourself?

Especially during the pandemic, you might see friends reaching out to their mentors for career advice. That might lead you to wonder: What is a mentor and how do I get one?

Whatever your goals are, finding a mentor can accelerate your progress. Read on to understand what a mentor is, what one can do for you, and how to find the right one for your needs.

What Is a Mentor?

A mentor is a guide who uses their experience and position to help you accomplish your goals.[1] You can learn from their successes and failures without having to go through the same events they did. Their knowledge will better prepare you for the twists and turns that come with your chosen career.

A mentor can simply be someone you periodically talk to and ask questions from or someone who is there to show you the ropes themselves. Figure out what you hope to get from mentorship, and seek out someone who can help you achieve your goals.

Why Should I Get a Mentor?

Having a mentor is like drinking your morning coffee—sure, you’d wake up eventually, but you’d hit your stride faster with a little caffeine. With a mentor, you’re able to learn so much more and gain so many more opportunities than you would otherwise.

For example, a mentor can introduce you to a colleague who has an internship opportunity for you. In normal circumstances, this internship may be a long shot. A mentor can also answer your questions in real-time, helping you accelerate through your career path.

How Do I Find One?

So are you convinced that a mentor is right for you? Now it’s time to find one. There’s no Tinder-esque mentorship app where you swipe left and right on potential candidates. You’re going to have to take a more active and professional approach to find yourself a mentor.

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Here’s how:

1. Social Media Networking

Thanks to the internet, your network is larger than ever. In particular, social networking sites like LinkedIn provide an excellent platform to connect with business professionals.

You can request to connect with possible mentors on these sites and instant message them through their profile. Be courteous and open with your messaging—an overzealous or immature message can be off-putting right from the start.

Thank each person for connecting with you. Ask a simple question to create a conversation. This can be about the nature of their job or the company they work for. Over time, you can develop a relationship that grows into a full mentorship.

2. Networking Events

Local networking events can be even better than networking online in some cases. While the internet allows you to connect with people no matter their location, attending a networking event is more personal.

Although the COVID-19 crisis has forced sponsors to call off many of these events, opportunities still exist online. Relationship-building service 7:47 still hosts dinners online, creating connections by asking attendees to express gratitude.[2] Many industry-specific conferences are also being held on Zoom.

After the networking event, keep in touch with those who caught your attention. You need to develop a relationship before asking someone to be your mentor.

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3. Personal Branding

Before reaching out to potential mentors, you want to beef up your personal brand. You want to be able to sell yourself to mentors as someone worth their time to coach. Your personal brand will create the first impression you need to win them over.

You can build up your brand through social networking. Your online profiles depict who you are at a basic level. Developing a professional resume and working on your writing can also help portray the type of candidate you are at a glance.

Consistency is key when it comes to branding. Not only do you want your tone and message to line up, but you also want to keep everything up to date. This could include sharing weekly thoughts and questions on LinkedIn as a way to connect and learn from others.

4. Career Fairs

You may find a mentor through your work experiences. Finding a job or an internship can lead you to professionals who are willing to help guide you forward. The most concentrated place to look is at a career fair.

At these fairs, there will be dozens of booths of companies and organizations looking to gain exposure and fill positions. Not only can you send out a ton of resumes and applications here, but you also have a chance to speak one-on-one with recruiters from these businesses.

Before you attend a career fair, prepare some questions for potential employers. You can even ask about their experiences with mentorship within their organization. Let it be known that you’re itching to learn, and they might be able to help connect you with a good mentor.

5. Professional Workshops

Workshops provide a more hands-on experience than your regular career fair. The end goal isn’t necessarily to land a position but to learn a new skill or valuable piece of information. Workshops cover a range of industries, so you should be able to find one that’s right for you.

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At workshops, not only will you have a chance to meet with professionals in their respective fields, but you’ll also rub shoulders with some like-minded individuals who are also in attendance. Speaking with them could be equally beneficial.

Mentors need not be wise old men who traveled the world in 80 days. They could be fellow young professionals looking to get ahead and who happens to have different experiences than you. You can work together to achieve your goals, leaning on each other every step of the way.

6. Speaking Seminars

Many of the world’s highest-ranking business professionals attend speaking events and panels or host seminars for people to pick their brains. These events are sure to teach you something new. Look in your area to see if there are any events like this in the works.

Bring a notepad to soak in every piece of information you can. There will often be a Q&A segment, so be prepared with some questions to ask as well. You might be given the chance to ask one, giving you a five-minute mentorship window with one of the best.

There’s a slim chance you can personally meet the guest of honor for yourself. Regardless, you can always talk to other attendees in your quest for a mentor. Many local business leaders may be there, and it will be a wonderful chance to connect with them as well.

7. College Courses

Students have all the luck when it comes to mentors. People love to share their knowledge and experience with students. If you’re enrolled in school, now is your time to capitalize on the best college experience.[3] Play that “student card” and see where it takes you.

You can start in some of your classroom settings. When you’ve pinpointed the career path you want to follow, start connecting more with your professors. They can help guide you to where you want to go, having followed a similar path to yours. You can also connect with classmates who are on the same career path as you.

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College professors can also continue mentoring you once you’ve graduated. There is no expiration date to mentorship, but you don’t want to wait until after college to start looking for a career. Get started as soon as possible.

8. Clubs and Societies

Organized groups give like-minded people a chance to share interests and grow together. This is another opportunity for you to connect with possible mentors in a setting many don’t consider. Most schools and communities have groups that you might be interested in joining.

Each club and organization has a leader. This is the person you can begin to learn from. They are practically volunteering to be your mentor in exchange for your dedication and contribution to the group.

Don’t forget to learn from your peers along the way. Everyone can be a mentor in some way or another. Take advantage of every learning opportunity you can find. You may even find yourself in a position to mentor another someday.

Final Thoughts

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes. You might be surprised who ends up being the one that helps you the most. Line up your goals and start planning ways to find a mentor, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals.

More Tips on Finding the Right Mentor

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It)

Nobody enjoys failing. Fear of failure can be so strong that avoiding failure eclipses the motivation to succeed. Insecurity about doing things incorrectly causes many people to unconsciously sabotage their chances for success.

Fear is part of human nature. As an entrepreneur, I faced this same fear. My ego and identity became intertwined with my work, and when things didn’t go as planned, I completely shut down. I overcame this unhealthy relationship with fear, and I believe that you can, too.

Together we’ll examine how you can use failure to your advantage instead of letting it run your life. We’ll also look at how to overcome fear of failure so that you can enjoy success in your work and life.

What Is Fear of Failure?

If you are afraid of failure, it will cause you to avoid potentially harmful situations.

Fear of failure keeps you from trying, creates self-doubt, stalls progress, and may lead you to go against your morals.

What causes a fear of failure? Here are the main reasons why fear of failing exists:

Patterns From Childhood

Hyper-critical adults cause children to internalize damaging mindsets.[1] They establish ultimatums and fear-based rules. This causes children to feel the constant need to ask for permission and reassurance. They carry this need for validation into adulthood.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism is often at the root of a fear of failure.[2] For perfectionists, failure is so terrible and humiliating that they don’t try. Stepping outside your comfort zone becomes terrifying.

Over-Personalization

The ego may lead us to over-identify with failures. It’s hard to look beyond failure at things like the quality of the effort, extenuating circumstances, or growth opportunities.[3]

False Self-Confidence

People with true confidence know they won’t always succeed. A person with fragile self-confidence avoids risks. They’d rather play it safe than try something new.[4]

How the Fear of Failure Holds You Back

Unhealthy Organization Culture

Too many organizations today have cultures of perfection: a set of organizational beliefs that any failure is unacceptable. Only pure, untainted success will do.

Imagine the stress and terror in an organization like that. The constant covering up of the smallest blemishes. The wild finger-pointing as everyone tries to shift the blame for the inevitable messes onto someone else. The lying, cheating, falsification of data, and hiding of problems—until they become crises that defy being hidden any longer.

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Miss out on Valuable Opportunities

If some people fail to reach a complete answer because of the lure of some early success, many more fail because of their ego-driven commitment to what worked in the past. You often see this with senior people, especially those who made their names by introducing some critical change years ago.

They shy away from further innovation, afraid that this time they might fail, diminishing the luster they try to keep around their names from past triumph.

Besides, they reason, the success of something new might even prove that those achievements they made in the past weren’t so great after all. Why take the risk when you can hang on to your reputation by doing nothing?

Such people are so deeply invested in their egos and the glories of their past that they prefer to set aside opportunities for future glory rather than risk even the possibility of failure.

High Achievers Become Losers

Every talent contains an opposite that sometimes turns it into a problem. Successful people like to win and achieve high standards. This can make them so terrified of failure that it ruins their lives. When a positive trait, like achievement, becomes too strong in someone’s life, it’s on the way to becoming a major obstacle.

Achievement is a powerful value for many successful people. They’ve built their lives on it. They achieve at everything they do: school, college, sports, the arts, hobbies, work. Each fresh achievement adds to the power of the value in their lives.

Gradually, failure becomes unthinkable. Maybe they’ve never failed yet in anything that they’ve done, so they have no experience of rising above it. Failure becomes the supreme nightmare: a frightful horror they must avoid at any cost.

The simplest way to do this is never to take a risk, stick rigidly to what you know you can do, protect yourself, work the longest hours, double and triple check everything, and be the most conscientious and conservative person in the universe.

If constant hard work, diligence, brutal working schedules and harrying subordinates won’t ward off the possibility of failing, use every other possible means to to keep it away. Falsify numbers, hide anything negative, conceal errors, avoid customer feedback, constantly shift the blame for errors onto anyone too weak to fight back.

Loss of Creativity

Over-achievers destroy their own peace of mind and the lives of those who work for them. People too attached to “goodness” and morality become self-righteous bigots. Those whose values for building close relationships become unbalanced slide into smothering their friends and family with constant expressions of affection and demands for love in return.

Everyone likes to succeed. The problem comes when fear of failure is dominant, when you can no longer accept the inevitability of making mistakes, nor recognize the importance of trial and error in finding the most creative solution.

The more creative you are, the more errors you are going to make. Deciding to avoid the errors will destroy your creativity, too.

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Balance counts more than you think. Some tartness must season the sweetest dish. A little selfishness is valuable even in the most caring person. And a little failure is essential to preserve everyone’s perspective on success.

We hear a lot about being positive. Maybe we also need to recognize that the negative parts of our lives and experience have just as important a role to play in finding success, in work, and in life.

How to Overcome Fear of Failure (Step-by-Step)

1. Figure out Where the Fear Comes From

Ask yourself what the root cause of your negative belief could be.[5] When you look at the four main causes for a fear of failure, which ones resonate with you?

Write down where you think the fear comes from, and try to understand it as an outsider.

If it helps, imagine you’re trying to help one of your best friends. Perhaps your fear stems from something that happened in your childhood, or a deep-seated insecurity.

Naming the source of the fear takes away some of its power.

2. Reframe Beliefs About Your Goal

Having an all or nothing mentality leaves you with nothing sometimes. Have a clear vision for what you’d like to accomplish but include learning something new in your goal.

If you always aim for improvement and learning, you are much less likely to fail.[6]

At Pixar, people are actually encouraged to “fail early and fail fast.”[7] They encourage experimentation and innovation so that they can stay on the cutting edge. That mindset involves failure, but as long as they achieve their vision of telling great stories, all the stumbling blocks are just opportunities to grow.

3. Learn to Think Positive

In many cases, you believe what you tell yourself. Your internal dialogue affects how you react and behave.

Our society is obsessed with success, but it’s important to recognize that even the most successful people encounter failure.

Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper because they thought he lacked creativity. He went on to found an animation studio that failed. He never gave up, and now Disney is a household name.

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Steve Jobs was also once fired from Apple before returning as the face of the company for many years. [8]

If Disney and Jobs had believed the negative feedback, they wouldn’t have made it.

It’s up to you to notice your negative self talk and identify triggers[9]. Replace negative thoughts with positive facts about yourself and the situation. You’ll be able to create a new mental scripts that you can reach for when you feel negativity creeping in. The voice inside your head has a great effect on what you do.

How To Be A Positive Thinker: Positivity Exercises, Affirmations, & Quotes

    4. Visualize all Potential Outcomes

    Uncertainty about what will happen next is terrifying. Take time to visualize the possible outcomes of your decision. Think about the best and worst-case scenarios. You’ll feel better if you’ve already had a chance to mentally prepare for what could happen.

    Fear of the unknown might keep you from taking a new job. Weigh the pros and cons, and imagine potential successes and failures in making such a life-altering decision. Knowing how things could turn out might help you get unstuck.

    5. Look at the Worst-Case Scenario

    There are times when the worst case could be absolutely devastating. In many cases, if something bad happens, it won’t be the end of the world.

    It’s important to define how bad the worst case scenario is in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, we give situations more power than they deserve. In most cases, a failure is not permanent.

    For example, when you start a new business, it’s bound to be a learning experience. You’ll make decisions that don’t pan out, but often that discomfort is temporary. You can change your strategy and rebound. Even in the worst case scenario, if the perceived failure led to the end of that business, it might be the launching point for something new.

    6. Have a Backup Plan

    It never hurts to have a backup plan. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a solution when the worst has happened. The old adage is solid wisdom:

    “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

    Having a backup plan gives you more confidence to move forward and take calculated risks.

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    Perhaps you’ve applied for a grant to fund an initiative at work. In the worst-case scenario, if you don’t get the grant, are there other ways you could get the funds?

    There are usually multiple ways to tackle a problem, so having a backup is a great way to reduce anxiety about possible failure.

    7. Learn From Whatever Happens

    Things may not go the way you planned, but that doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed. Learn from whatever arises.[10] Even a less than ideal situation can be a great opportunity to make changes and grow.

    “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.”

    Dig deep enough, and you’re bound to find the silver lining. When you’ve learned that “failure” is an opportunity for growth instead of a death sentence, you conquer the fear of failure.

    For more tips on how to overcome fear of failure, check out the video below:

    Final Thoughts

    To overcome fear of failure, we can start by figuring out where it comes from and reframing the way we feel about failure. When failure is a chance for growth, and you’ve looked at all possible outcomes, it’s easier to overcome fear.

    Stay positive, have a backup plan, and learn from whatever happens. Your failures will be sources of education and inspiration rather than humiliation.

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” -Thomas A. Edison

    Failures can be blessings in disguise. Go boldly in the direction of your dreams and long-term goals.

    More Tips for Conquering Fear

    Featured photo credit: Patrick Hendry via unsplash.com

    Reference

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