This past week I graded the post-graduation plans of forty second year DPT students.  Over 90% had goals and action plans to find a mentor by three months after graduation.  The truth is, only a small fraction of them will.  As it becomes time to seek a mentor, suddenly many of us create reasons why we no longer should or need to.  We develop limiting beliefs about mentorship.

Usually I spend my day looking for my keys, but last weekend I spent hours looking for my car.  I listened to an audiobook on the drive into Indianapolis Airport, parked my car and as I grabbed a bag from my backseat a fellow traveler approached me about how the shuttles worked.  I directed him toward the bus stop and we talked about his plans in Florida and mine in New Jersey.  It wasn’t until I boarded my plane home that I was struck with the realization that I had absolutely NO idea where I had parked.

When I landed back in Indy after my trip, I pulled up a map of the parking lot and tried to retrace my steps to determine where I may have parked.  There are twenty-two bus stops in the parking lot.  I decided to get off at bus stop fourteen for no other reason than that’s the stop I was at the previous time I flew.  Little did I know, I was about to wander the parking lot for the next two hours.

Do you know how many black Honda Civics there were in the parking lot that day?  A LOT.  I stopped counting at twenty-two. Lots of cars look like black Honda Civics as well. My next car will be neon orange.  

At some point I passed a sign with a phone number to call if you couldn’t find your car.  I told myself that I wasn’t someone that needed to do that (I’m self-sufficient, I thought).  So, I kept walking, readjusting my heavy luggage periodically.  Two hours in a heroic bus driver staged an intervention.  He urged me to get in the bus and kept following me until I gave in.  Twenty minutes later, I was standing in front of my black Honda Civic with correct New Jersey plates.

Why didn’t I seek help sooner?  Well, why do many of us wander through our careers without guidance?  Our own limiting beliefs.  It is important for us to recognize our beliefs and biases that constrain us so that we can move toward overcoming them.

I can do it alone

Would I have found my car eventually?  Probably.  But, I may still be wandering around the airport right now instead of writing this post.  Without a mentor, will you be successful?  Probably.  But, would you rather wander aimlessly through your career hoping to eventually stumble across success?  Finding a mentor does not mean you’re incapable or lack independence, but rather gives us a clearer vision and guides us down a more meaningful path.

I have plenty of other resources.

I had a map of the parking lot, an idea of where I parked, and access to the internet.  I still couldn’t find my car.  There are research articles, blogs, books, and continuing education courses.  Having all that information does not guarantee success.  Many times, you also need someone to help you synthesize and apply the information you take in.  Someone who you can bounce ideas off of and guide you to the best solution.

I don’t have time

When I saw the sign for car location assistance, my initial thought was “I don’t have time to wait for help to arrive.”  I viewed it as something that would slow me down.  However, I spent another unsuccessful hour of my time wandering even after I passed that sign.  Meeting with a mentor will save you time in the long run.  An hour spent navigating through career and personal obstacles proves invaluable in the long run.

They don’t have time

No one has time.  The bus driver did not have time to pick me up and drive me up and down the rows, but he made time.  Mentors will make time when asked.  If they don’t make the time, they aren’t the mentor for you. In many instances, your mentor has also been mentored.  It is a form of passing on advice and support.  Mentees become mentors as a way of paying forward the time and guidance that was given to them.

There are many more beliefs that may be preventing you from finding a mentor.  But, maybe you recognize you need a mentor and are now being held back by how to find one.  Next week, you’ll find out how to find the best mentor for you.


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