“I would have contacted you, but I didn’t have any concrete action steps or questions, so I didn’t want to waste your time,” She replied to me reaching out to see if she wanted a mentor meeting.
I asked if she was stuck. She said, “Yes, I don’t know my next step.” We met and it turned out to be one of our most productive mentoring sessions.
I learned a lot through this interaction. Part of being on a journey toward your ideal career is that you frequently don’t know what’s next. And that is when you need high quality people who are on the same journey around you. That means that some are ahead of you, some are behind you, and some are right with you on the path.
That group, along with your guide, can see things that you can’t. I used to think that answering questions was one of the most important parts of mentoring. Actually it's not. It is being there and being understanding when the person is stuck, doesn’t know where she is or where she is going. When she doesn't even know what questions to ask. This is the most important time.
So if you are being mentored in your professional career and don’t know what’s next, reach out. Be honest, be transparent. We all have been there. Your mentor can help and wants to help.
If you are a mentor and the people you are working with haven’t reached out and you know it is time that they should, reach out to them. Offer support. Offer to be with them. Understanding can go a long way. Discussion followed by action can almost always illuminate the path.
If you don’t have a professional mentor that is leading you on a path to your ideal, it is time to get one. Here are some articles to help you take action: