Often in my work I am asked about the role of mentors. Mentorship holds a lot of value and I would never call out a well-thought out mentoring program when the time, effort and resources have been put into place to make that happen. However, what many tend to forget is that sourcing what we need for our own development is always in our hands, whether your organization provides a formal mentoring/development program or not. The ideals of mentorship make it popular; it offers the possibility of receiving guidance beyond the “business”, providing support in the relational field; navigating office politics, internal networking and (when it is coupled with sponsorship), helps to increase an individual’s visibility within an organization. That is a tall order for one relationship to deliver on, and before entering into it you should check your expectations at the door.
Development with the assistance of others happens organically every day, not just through mentorship. Seek a mentor, by why stop at building only one relationship? Find people to connect with who hold experiences beyond your own, who have navigated problems and paths you have yet to cross. Meet with them once or often, it doesn’t matter as long as you are open-minded. These individuals will look different than you do, have experienced life in a different way than you, they may even be younger than you are. They will express themselves in ways that may make you laugh, shudder, or make you feel like a slacker. Don’t be complacent choosing to learn from only those who offer comfort and familiarity to you – that is not development - that is confirmation (there is no development in confirmation, although it may seem like it because you feel better when it is present). Mentorship with one individual has a continuity attached to it that allows for a deeper and more intimate professional relationship to take place, but it is not the only professional relationship you need to invest in. Challenge yourself, be more visible, offer up your gifts, your insights and your experiences. They are valuable, especially when they differ from another person’s and you are willing to share them without prejudice, with heart-felt compassion…and from a place where you build shared understanding.
Development is working with someone who will challenge your thinking. If you are lucky you may receive mentorship from someone who can do that, but one person alone cannot be solely responsible for your development (beyond accepting responsibility for this yourself). Nurturing your high potential requires you to put yourself out into the world, being prepared to hear things you’d rather not, receive opinions as well as facts. With development you source your own gurus and teachers, build your own network to call on when you need a different perspective. Through all of these conversations you will need to figure out what is important to action, and what is not. This is development of your high potential.
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Planning for Your High Potential
Let’s look at the word “career” for a moment. A career is typically understood to be any working experience throughout your active life (both paid and unpaid); from your first “paycheck” job to the day you retire from actively engaging in work (volunteer or otherwise). My client’s come into career coaching identifying a “career” as the professional pursuits they have on their resumes. The work that launched them into professional life, the work they are most proud of, the work where they feel they've done their best.
While you can (and should) be selective on what you represent to others on your resume and social media profiles (so as to attract and retain the types of work that really interests you), this “selective reasoning” often obscures the fact that many people end up getting bumped around in their careers, following meandering paths of employment based alternately on hard work and luck. This is career as a path of least resistance, rather than an intentional course that encourages your growth and development.
In order for your work to be fulfilling and gratifying it needs to be grounded in meaning and purpose. If you haven’t intentionally sat down to think about what you feel your purpose is in what you do for a living, then many of the benefits of your working life will not be leveraged (beyond the paycheck…and money alone isn’t enough to give you satisfaction in your work). Often working lives become “scenery”, something you go through, not unwillingly, but without a lot of conscious thought, joy, gratitude or intention. If looking at your career from where you are now makes you feel like you are not where you want to be, you’ve got an example of the collateral damage drifting through your working life can cause. Dissatisfaction, malaise, anxiety, imposter syndrome and many other energy-sucking feelings arise when you don’t take full accountability for actively managing your career and recognizing your own great potential.
Drift can also make you blind to what is right in front of you. You may be in the best profession, in the best job and in the best company for you to be working in right now and you may not even know it. Take a moment to look around and see (and if you are in the right place, take time to enjoy it). If you know you are not in a place that makes you feel good about yourself in your work, then where would you like to go? Plan from that future point back to the present where you are now. Yes, this takes time. Yes, it means facing potential gaps in knowledge and skills. Yes, it means investing in yourself (or convincing your current employer to invest in you). You are worth it, right? (Hint: the answer is “yes”).
Most of us spend 10 hours or more a day getting ready for, being immersed in, or thinking about, work. That is a lot of life to be living in “meh” because your potential isn’t being engaged. No one else is going to determine your career course with purpose and intent, only you can do this for yourself (and you are worth it). So, how do you want to invest in yourself and your abundant potential?
Are you ready to realize your high potential?
Opportunity knocks when you least expect it. I'm offering a program to professionals that helps realize your highest potential and you are invited! Don't let opportunity slip by you this fall - be ready with a cover letter that gets you noticed for all the right reasons!
To get started book your Career Strategy Session.
Many people overthink their resume (the No. 1 cause of resume writer’s block) and whn that happens you write from a place of practicality (getting it done) and your resume won't even make you feel good about your skills. Resumes are one of the few socially acceptable places to “brag” (highlight your career achievements), so include all the positive impacts you’ve had at work - you'll know you've done this well when your resume content makes you feel something (and you smile as you read it). You are an abundance of potential; your resume should say so. As you begin writing, keep in mind you are going for quality not quantity. Find some quiet time to focus on the process. If you are stuck, go on-line to see examples of resumes from people in your line of work. If you have writers block tackle the easy bits first; listing your education and recent professional development activities doesn't take long, and it gives you momentum.
If you draw a blank when it comes to listing your talents, passions, and values (or if you can list them but fail to see how those translate into any marketable traits) it may help to frame it a different way: What do you bring to your community? What do you consistently bring to your family, friends, co-workers, volunteer work, etc. that others appreciate and enjoy? Is it your energy, your ability to connect dots? Is it that you are never daunted by a problem, or that you can find creative solutions and aren’t afraid to voice them? Everyone is good at something and it usually presents itself in more than one way (because when you really enjoy something you find any excuse to do it). Once you’ve identified these things about yourself do not assume they have no value in the job market. They do when they help you to be more effective and engaged in your work, fueling your high potential, and they should be showcased in your resume.
Following these strategies will ensure your high potential is what prospective employers see when they look at your resume.