I hear it all the time when I interview candidates: Everyone is looking for a mentor. They should really be looking for these three people, instead.
Me: “What are you looking for in your next internship/job/role?”
Candidate: “Well, I would really like to find a mentor. Someone who can really guide me to success.”
Aw, that’s sweet. And, yes, mentors are wonderful. I’m fortunate enough to have people in my network who I regularly look to for advice, or who I can contact when I need to talk through a particular project. But mentors are not something you should have to spend countless hours seeking out, especially when you’re already consumed with multiple projects and distractions (sound familiar?).
As my girl Sheryl Sandberg once said, “We need to stop telling [women], ‘Get a mentor and you will excel.’ Instead, we need to tell them, ‘Excel and you will get a mentor.'”
So, while you’re busy trying climb the ladder, stop and look around. More than likely there are plenty of people who would be more than happy to help you advance your career.
The 3 People You Need to Meet if You Want to Succeed
Who exactly are those people? Here are three specific personas in your own network to start leveraging now:
1) The Cheerleader
This is the person who constantly reminds you that you’re actually good at your job. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been working for two months, two years, or two decades — there are going to be moments when you think to yourself: “What am I doing? I’m a fraud!”
Maybe you don’t have all the answers, but this person will be there to remind you that it’s okay to not always have the right answer. Sure, you have your external support systems (be it your parents, significant other, or friends), but having someone in your corner professionally, who knows the players in your space, gets the circumstances, and is part of the environment you’re working in is much more reassuring.
2) The Doppelgänger
If you’re an A-player, you’re competitive. And if you’re competitive, then you should understand that the whole “I’m only competitive with myself” routine is bullsh*t.
Therefore, it’s essential to find someone in your organization you can quietly compete with. If they’re just like you, even better. Remember that person in your class who participated in the same extracurricular activities, whose paper you would peer at to see their final grade, and who you would go head-to-head with on the soccer field? Well, chances are there is someone just like that in your office.
Now, there’s no reason to get aggressive about this. Instead, identify the person and strive to be a bit better than him or her every day. Keep tabs on the work they’re doing and push yourself to follow suit — your boss will thank you both later.
3) The Partner in Crime
There comes a point during every week (or, cough, cough… every day) when you simply hit a wall. You can’t stare at the screen anymore and you feel your productivity level crashing with each passing second. At that point, you need to be able to call on the Robin to your Batman. This is the person who knows which YouTube video will cheer you up or which jam will get you amped before a big meeting, and can also read your mind during those meetings. This crucial person makes your days a little bit brighter and your weeks a little bit shorter.
Did I miss anyone? Is there another archetype of someone in the office who helps you succeed every day? Let me know below!