I’m often asked for advice on career development, and the first thing I tell people is that developing yourself is hard work. What I’ve found helpful is to have some basic principles to live by: Work hard; have a positive, can-do attitude; take personal responsibility for your actions; and know your personal values.
But beyond that, I have found it beneficial also to be open to all possibilities. I truly believe that, to a large extent, you make your own luck. Good things happen when you are pre- pared and of open mind and spirit when opportunities come knocking. This means being willing to take risks, push past your comfort zone and take on the ugly challenges, because some of the prettiest opportunities initially come dressed in the ugliest clothing.
With all that said, it is safe to say that I believe that you are your own best mentor. If you are not willing to work on yourself in a dedicated and disciplined manner, no one else will be willing to help you. So, push yourself, experiment, reflect, learn, and seek feedback from others on your team.
On formal mentorship, I do think that it is a great way to fur- ther develop yourself. I have been very fortunate to have had many mentors in my career. Some of them knew they were mentoring me, while some never knew that they were serving that role. It is important to seek out mentors and not wait for one to be given to you. Know your development needs and find people who can help you improve.
Make certain that the relationship is founded on honesty and trust. Be clear in your own mind that mentorship is not sponsor- ship, and that your mentor should help you improve, not neces- sarily guarantee advancement to the next job. Also, seek out a broad network of mentors and advisors, not just one individual relationship. As hard as self-development seems, I have found that you reap what you sow.