The beginning of my Aflac career was as comptroller for the Southern Broadcast Division of the company, which at that time owned seven television stations in addition to the more recognizable voluntary insurance we continue to sell. There were a few key people who took a special interest in mentoring me through my early years at Aflac. These individuals had great character and impressed upon me the importance of developing a vision for my professional career. Their sound advice and decision-making skills played a part in shaping my professional and personal life.

From my mentors, I learned that sometimes it is the little things that count. A simple gesture such as a handwritten note of advice can have the biggest impact. As I started mentoring others, I remembered the vision, passion and gestures that were instilled early in my career.

As women, we have become more active and independent in our professional growth. We make decisions from the board room and start small businesses from our living rooms. As you climb the ladder of success, chart the course you want to take. Have a vision for your career and set specific goals. Take time and visualize your possible professional and personal objectives, and don’t stop until you achieve them.

Have passion about the goals you wish to accomplish. If you want to take a foreign language course or complete your master’s degree, do it. Even if this requires you to move away from your comfort zone, take on the challenge and move forward. It will only make you a better person and potentially more marketable as you play out your vision.

Recognition and reward should sit high on the list of kind gestures. Individuals like to know their work is appreciated and that they are progressing in a positive direction. Recognition can be given in the form of a certificate or an appreciation dinner, and rewards can be as simple as a gift card or an employee luncheon. Whatever the method of reward and recognition, just make sure to let the people you mentor know that they are valued for their contributions.

Mentors are willing to share knowledge and offer sound advice to help you advance to the next level, and they are essentially important for anyone who desires to succeed personally and professionally. So look around because you just never know where they will come from.