Mentors offer keys to unlock our potential and point us to new doors

Our perception is our reality.

Early in our lives and careers, we have not experienced enough to view ourselves in the context of our true potential.

It is only by stretching ourselves that we realize our capability and capacity are not finite. They grow with use – like any other muscle.

What experience and time give us is that realization. When we can look back on years of trial and error, to our accomplishments and the investment required to achieve them.

We gain perspective of our own ability and that of others.

Consider our talent to be like a scalpel. Early in our careers, it is in inexperienced hands and can yield unexpected results if used improperly or impatiently. Later, we can operate with precision.

Experience allows us to use our skills with purpose and intent, guided with an ability to recognize nuance, push forward or throttle back. We may start out with one speed – go, go, go! Experience allows us better maneuverability and control of our power.

Yet, if we are young and inexperienced, we do not need to despair. Mentors and insightful leaders are the key to focusing, honing and stretching our talents, until we are in the position to do that for ourselves and others.

Consider every successful person you’ve heard of.  Every one of them looks back and credits mentors for helping them expand their perspective and tap into their potential.  With the rise of social media, technology is an easy place to see young success stories.  None of them got there alone, and they still have help today.

I met my first mentor when I was 16.  He worked with my father, and I knew him as just another civilian manager at the military R&D facility.

When I began working for the Marine Corps at 19, he provided invaluable guidance on my education and job focus.  Ultimately, I ended up working for him and he introduced me to my first projects to lead, as well as my first team to build.

Each step seemed like a giant leap forward.  There was no one else on a path like mine and I was unsure I could succeed.  His confidence in my potential pushed me forward, until I could push myself.

Mentors’ ability to perceive us as we CAN be, versus our current state, is that makes them invaluable throughout our journey. No matter how far we’ve come, someone else can view us with a different lens, seeing our potential horizons from a better vantage point.

At any stage of our life and career, we always have the ability to do more, to stretch the muscles of our capability and capacity. Mentors are the key to unlocking that potential until we can unlock our own. And even then, they may point us to new doors.

Are you just starting out in your career, or are you well on your way? Please share how mentors have helped you see yourself differently, or otherwise guided your journey, in the comments. If you found this article insightful, please consider sharing it on social media.