It Only Took Me 34 Years to Realize This

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…

42 thoughts on “It Only Took Me 34 Years to Realize This

  1. I do wish I had taken mentorship more seriously at a younger age, especially as a student. But still learned myself the hard way and did okay I guess.


  2. Despite all this, I’m sure you’ll make a great mentor about something to younger generation, just as they will mentor you. It’s a circle of life.

    Although being called out for anything might make me faint. haha 😀 I’m too shy.


      1. Have you read Susan Cain’s book Quiet? It’s great. And will make you think twice about taking advice from Tony Robbins. Introverts make the better leaders in certain situations …

        Academia is one of them as it takes solitude to be quiet and still with your thoughts and write them down for posterity. Introverts are better at that than true extroverts who need more adulation and applause than time alone with just their deep thoughts for company.



  3. Mentor ship is so important. I was offered mentoring by professors in college who wanted to co-author and collaborate with me. I didn’t have enough self confidence to believe in my abilities and lost touch with them over the years. Now I ask everyone for advice and help, even if I outrank them they typically have value in their contributions.



  4. Happy Friday, Jim! Thanks for sharing this personal insight with us. I’ve come to believe that life is a continuous journey of becoming, and I savour every step. Reflection is a such powerful force and a journey in and of itself. Cheers to making it count! 🙂


    1. Thanks, Natalie. I agree that reflection is powerful, except sometimes I start to think “What if?”, even though I know the past is over and I can’t change it. Have a great weekend!


  5. That sent me thinking maybe if I had had one I would have actually had a successful career. At either end of life I have had good advice though. The economics teacher at high school used to talk about life and how to bring up children – very useful advice. Now I have found lots of helpful advice on blogging and writing here at WordPress!


  6. I was fortunate enough to have several amazing mentors who made an enormous difference in my life. After I realized the impact they had on me, I started to mentor myself, and the most wonderful shows of appreciation on my retirement we’re from my mentorees.

    I don’t believe it’s ever too late to have a mentor (I’m not sure if it’s ever too early…).


    1. I agree that it’s probably never too late to have a mentor; it’s just that what you want to be mentored about may change over time. And I certainly do not think you are ever too young to have a mentor.


      1. I certainly had mentors in different areas, and, yes, even with one mentor that I had for over 6 years, our focus changed over time.

        What I meant about possibly being too young or immature is that it’s difficult to force that relationship on someone who may not be ready to absorb it?


  7. I don’t think you’re ever too old for a mentor and it can really help having one so I really hope you find the perfect mentor for you although I would suggest not looking for one on Craigslist… 😂


  8. Times have changed! Today’s world invites the use of career mentors in a more formal way. Back in the day, I found mentors in more experienced teaching colleagues. I had a super role model during my first three years in the classroom. Others would come as my career continued.


  9. Jim, I totally love your authenticity, spunk, and dash of cool humor! 🙂

    I’m passionate about lifelong learning …. and I love how you are open to having mentors. I’ve been blessed with awesome mentors …. and I believe what matters most is our openness to learning…. the wonderful surprise to this all is that YOU yourself can mentor others….. we are all gifts to one another! 🙂


    1. thanks, Yeka. you have a wonderful way with words. And in hindsight, I should have been more proactive when I was younger in looking for a mentor. And yes, lifelong learning os one of my passions as well.


      1. Ultimately it’s your attitude towards learning that spells the difference. And HEART! You’ve got a lot of that Jim!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️


      2. By the way, super loved your post …. was about to share it but couldn’t do so …. couldn’t find a Reblog button as well?…. pls know that I admire you a great deal … your insights are awesome! 😀


      3. Aww you’re so wonderfully humble …. you know me well by now Jim, I simply speak my mind …. and heart! ❤️💜💚🧡💛💚🧡💛❤️


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