Last year I was faced with a decision about a job. I had a good one and I wanted to quit. I'd recently relocated with my family and even though I was able to perform the work remotely, it was no longer a fit for me. But I knew I couldn't trust myself. I'd just moved and was busy helping my kids adjust to new schools, new friends and new routines. I was tired from packing and unpacking and finding all new doctors and dentists and grocery stores and hair salons. I needed some perspective. Fortunately, I had my team of experts.
Most of my adult life I've cultivated relationships with people who are further along in life, have more skill, or refreshing insight . People who listen well, tell the truth and, perhaps see things differently than I do. Some of them are professionals (meaning I pay them for their expertise), others are informal mentors and advisors. Catherine Yang at Ohio State University suggests a number of different types of advisors. They include:
- The wise leader is someone who through executive title, seniority, or status within the organization has reached the pinnacle of his or her career and is worthy of and willing to impart knowledge and wisdom to others in the organization.
- The life coach is a professional mentor. These relationships tend to be short term with a targeted and prioritized set of objectives.
- Peer mentors participate in informal relationships in which colleagues or friends pair up to help each other grow within an organization.
- The confidante is not so much a mentor as someone to use as a touchstone or sounding board. It is helpful in both healthy and dysfunctional work environments to have a confidante with whom to bat ideas around, air frustrations, request reality checks, and seek advice.
After seeking the advice my advisors, I decided to give my notice. Their ability to listen helped me clarify my own desires and the counsel of others who'd been through similar situations was invaluable.
How have you benefited from any of the above relationships? How might you cultivate these relationships if you don't already have them?