By Helena Powerhouse, Julia Bryant-Barrantes Founder/ Head Marketer 406 Social Media
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready the teacher will disappear.” – Lao Tzu
When life throws you a curveball – which it often does – we learn, grow, and hopefully overcome the obstacle set in our path. Mentors offer us a fresh perspective and a new way to consider the situation with thought provoking guidance or engage us in a new direction entirely. The relationship can last only a few hours or several years and still be just as impactful.
An individual popping into your life and making a remarkable impact is what I consider a short-term mentor. Short-term mentors are often found in a colleague, a client, a friend, an acquaintance, or someone you’ve just met.
I work alongside some incredible people; as a consultant, I’ve had the privilege to work across numerous industries providing opportunities to learn from individuals with distinctive thoughts on the world and solutions I had never considered. Some of my most treasured insights have come from a colleague or a client after just a simple conversation.
Once I realized short-term mentors were so easy to find, I leaned into every situation that would elevate not only my professional goals, but my personal self as well. I took dance lessons from a woman I met on the Seattle ferry who told me I needed to “stand taller.” At 5’ 10’’ I thought I stood tall enough (sheesh!), but I realized she meant be stronger, stand with confidence. After meeting an older woman at a shoe store, she insisted I take piano and theater lessons with her for a few weeks. How could I say no? Come to find out, she had just retired from a nearly 25-year career in theater and shared wisdom that followed me throughout my career. During my first Triathlon – hopefully not my last – I met the gentleman pictured below. We rode together for 20 miles, side-by-side. We only knew each other for a few hours, but in that brief time, I was motivated by a man determined to check this experience off his bucket list at 78 years old. What could possibly be more inspiring than that?
Being aware and seizing opportunities are key elements to making the most of a mentor. In my professional life, I’ve learned not to shy away from asking advice from leaders I admire. You may need to apologize for jumping the chain of command… but as Grace Hopper so wisely said, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” So, tread lightly and don’t hesitate to send a cold-email to your idol, they’ll respect the initiative, and you’ll realize it’s not that hard to put yourself out there.
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