Mentors cannot slay your dragons. They can only guide the way


A Mentor is His or Her Own Hero

There is no understating the impact that our managers and mentors can have on our future.  A hero, who’s been through the battles facing us, and can help guide our way.

Yet, this is our story.  Not theirs.  When it comes to our lives and careers, the only hero that can save us is in the mirror.

“And they say that a hero can save us.  I’m not gonna stand here and wait.”  

Chad Kroeger


We Must Be Our Own Hero

While having a caring and insightful manager, or a trusted mentor, makes our journey easier, waiting for one only sets us back.  Lacking a mentor? Working for a less-than perfect boss?  Then save yourself.

I know the type of work that I do, and want to do, is valuable to any company.  However, it’s not something that has a standard job description.  I have been building my own map for years.

As a result, I have frequently written my own objectives, reviews and development plans.  Though I have received feedback throughout the years, not all of it has been actionable, clear, or productive relative to where I want to go.


Waiting Will Not Get Us Far

If I had waited for someone else to guide me, I wouldn’t have gotten very far.

Instead, I found my own path.  When I hit a wall, I considered who I might know that could provide another source of input.  They might not have been mentors or managers at the time, but several have become trusted advisors.

While leaders are responsible for the growth and development of their teams, as individuals, we are each ultimately accountable for our own lives and success.

Should our manager help develop us?  Of course.  Will that always happen, when and how we need to meet our career and life goals.  No.

Our leaders cannot see in our heads.  They see our contribution relative to their perspective, the path they see us on, etc.  Not all managers or leaders are in a position to help us get where we want to be.

So what can we do, if we’re not getting what we think we need and don’t want to wait around for it to happen?


Knock On Doors to Find Opportunity

Change does not happen by sitting back and waiting for it to happen.  A hero will not magically show up at our door and clear the path or point the way.  Sometimes, we have to go knocking.

As the new year starts, I am at another crossroads.  In my experience, each year has a lesson.  Something new to learn and develop in preparation for what’s ahead.

I have been unsure of what that something new will be, so I knew it was time to get another perspective.

I recently reached out to a senior leader, whose team does work similar to mine.  I thought my tools/experience could be beneficial to her team, and she might have insights regarding potential development opportunities.

She was able to provide me with insights from other parts of the organization.  Areas I would not normally have exposure to.  She helped crystalize my opportunities and provided a few suggestions.  While her insights were invaluable, the next steps are mine.


A Hero’s Struggle is His or Her Own

Our options are simple.  Wait, and potentially keep waiting, for our lives and careers to be what we want them to be.  OR make them what we want them to be, by taking ownership and becoming our own hero.

All heroes have mentors and guides, but ultimately, the challenge or struggle is the hero’s alone to face.

A mentor or manager will not slay your dragon for you.  They can only help you get the training and tools needed.  If they don’t, the dragon will still be there.

Personally, if I’ve got a dragon on my tail, I’m figuring out a way to save myself rather than trust someone else will do it for me.  How about you?


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