I was at a meeting today (yes, you can feel sorry for me) and since it was the first time for this committee to meet, we started off by introducing ourselves. In addition to our name, how long we have been at Villanova, and what we did, we were also asked to share the best piece of advice we had ever received from someone regarding our professional development.
My mind immediately started spinning, but I was coming up with nothing. I was briefly asked to go first, but the person running the meeting saw my blank face (it’s the look I have most of the day) and decided to start with the person next to me. That gave me a few extra minutes to think of something, but once again, nothing was coming to me.
It was at that point I realized something I had never thought about before. I honestly can’t think of anyone ever giving me career advice.
In other words, I’ve never had a career mentor.
Sure, my mom and dad offered me lots of good advice about life, and my coaches and bosses have always provided useful feedback, but I’ve never had someone whom I would consider a career mentor, an experienced and trusted adviser who could provide guidance as I progressed through my career.
My mentors were found in books – Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie, Jim Rohn, Seth Godin, Stephen Covey, Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar. But that was pretty impersonal. I guess I’ve always been pretty independent and believed that my career was 100% my responsibility and that I didn’t need to ask anyone for help.
So while I was sitting at the meeting, I started to feel bad. I started thinking that I probably should have been more proactive in seeking out a mentor. I read all those books, and while they offered lots of good advice on to manage my life and career, many of them also talked about the value of having a mentor, yet I never took that piece of advice to heart.
In the meantime, back at the meeting, it was finally my turn. I gave my name, stated that I had been at Nova for 34 years (the next closest in the room was 24 years, so yea, I was the old guy), and then I just made up some generic stuff about how I had been taught to always keep learning, and how that was also my number one Clifton Strength.
The rest of the meeting was a blur; there were some interesting discussions and suggestions being made, but my mind kept going back to the fact that I’ve never had a career mentor.
I don’t know if it would have made a difference, but I’m sure it could not have hurt.
And now I’m guessing it’s too late since I’m only a handful of years away from retirement.
Or maybe I can find one to help with my second act.
I can see my Craigslist ad:
Wanted: Mentor to 66-year-old man who thought he knew everything. In five minutes you will realize how wrong he was. Given his age, there is a distinct possibility this may not be a long-term relationship…