December 11, 2014 Philip J.W. Smith & Co.

Mentoring Got Me Where I am Today

Only few can honestly say, “I am where I am because of no one else!” I can’t make that statement and am happy to share I have had the great fortune of being mentored throughout my life by amazing people.

First, there is my family. My dear Godmother inspired me to think deeply what I truly wanted out of life and go after it. She created ruckus at her Dutch home in the 1950s to become a nurse whereas my grandparents didn’t belief she could and should have a business career.

My “Tante Elly” (Aunt Elly) had a life-long career in health care by not giving up and seeking mentors during her training years and later on the floor. As the Executive Director of a retirement home in 1983 she created one of the first holistic intakes in the health sector. She taught me the importance of asking questions and challenging the status quo; even at a time when you feel intimidated as apparently everyone else around you “gets it”.

Second, I was lucky working with a manager who considered work to be fun. If you didn’t have fun, he ensured his team members, “you’d better make it fun.” When I joined his team, he challenged me to take up new roles and grow in leadership. His advice was as sound as my Godmother’s, “Find a colleague with whom you can bounce ideas off. Nothing is silly in a brainstorm phase; keep looking at the issue at hand from different perspectives and the solution will present itself.“

When I went on to live in India for several years, I wanted a mentor to help me filter information with a cultural sensitive lens. As I was lost at times during my first year about what was happening around me, a trained anthropologist and colleague came to my rescue.

We spent many hours chatting about the disruption I caused, unconsciously and intentionally. Given that my upbringing was vastly different, my behaviour was often alien to my co-workers. In return, their methodologies and reasoning had deep thought and traditions woven into their responses I was unaware about.

Without his guidance I would not have been able to contribute as much as I did to the passionate non-profit organization I worked at. The team I worked with became stronger collaborators and is since using a more participatory approach into serving its customers.

I encourage everyone to find a mentor to help you move further in your career and enjoy new friendships and advice that will encompass more than your career.

 

About Our Guest Blogger

As Founder of Kaleidoscope and Business Mentor, Lisette Andreyko works with start-ups on gaining strategic focus. She is passionate about women in business, and personal and leadership development in start-ups. You can find her on Kaleidoscope, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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