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Friday, November 19, 2021

6 Lessons for Mentees from a Seasoned Career-Changer (a series)

I've had wonderful mentors throughout my career. Recently I've had several invitations and opportunities to start paying back by being a mentor at work, through the ESP program sponsored by ISCT, and giving talks to young professionals. It has really made me think about my own career and what advice I would give myself 30 years ago.

As part of that exercise I've come back to this blog to write down some of the hard-earned, experienced-based lessons I take with me into the last decade (or so) of my career.

I've broken down my thoughts into "6 lessons" - a draft outline sketched out below - which I will write about over the coming weeks. It's a useful exercise for me as I consider what value I can share my mentees and since I'm doing it anyway, I might as well share it in hopes that it triggers others to use, engage with, and share what they find useful or things they might add.

Lesson 1 - the platitudes 

  1. Follow your passions
  2. Do what you love, and you'll be good at what you do
  3. No risk, no reward

Lesson 2 - more platitudes and a kick in the pants

  1. All good things come to those who wait (but not for those who wait around)
  2. Be careful what you wish for you just might get it (so be prepared - go in eyes wide open)
  3. I can't. I don't have time. I'm not qualified. I don't know how. And other lame excuses

Lesson 3 - its all up to you

  1. It's your career. Manage it like a company
  2. Perception is everything (or, at least, it is your reality)
  3. Not deciding is the same as deciding (there's a time for thinking and a time for doing)
  4. Pretending you know, helps no one. Be smart - look dumb - ask questions.

Lesson 4- its about the peeps

  1. It's all about the people (invest in relationships)
  2. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  3. Never avoid conflict (but rarely engage in it - make the tough conversations the easiest ones)
  4. Take time to be a mentor

Lesson 5 - be judged by how you helped

  1. Make your mark by contributing (not boasting or boosting)
  2. See a need - get on with (addressing) it
  3. Small scale can scale so don't let the end scare you into not beginning
  4. You can turn anything around, one person/thing at a time

Lesson 6 - thinking matters, doing matters more, thinking about what you're doing matters most

  1. Goals are good, plans seldom work
  2. Vision is good, execution is better
  3. Never forget to spend some time looking at the big picture
  4. Invest in your context

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