Once upon a time, there was a rooster. It was not as strong and majestic as the other roosters but spent a lot of its time walking around the village.
On one of these trips, it stumbled on a branch and injured itself. It yelled out for help but as it was on a quiet side of the village, no one came to help.
It yelled even louder for help and finally saw from the corner of its eyes, a beautiful grey, majestic fox, staring at it intently.
Unfazed, it asked the fox for help. Without a word, the fox came over and helped it. Over the subsequent months, they became friends.
The fox was refreshed with the indomitable spirit of the rooster even though it was weak and shabby. On the other hand, the rooster discovered that this fox had myriad of experiences living in the village and was not as scary as portrayed by its friends.
Every year in the village, a customary cock fight is held. The winner would be declared the most courageous, strong and majestic rooster in the entire village. The village animals thought nothing of this particular rooster because it was far from exceptional, and it spent too much time around the village.
On the day of the cock fight, the rooster surprised them all by beating the alpha roosters of the village.
However, they were more shocked when they saw the fox cheering on the rooster! Despite its physical handicap, the rooster forged a very important relationship that allowed it to win the contest.
It had an upper hand due to the knowledge passed down by the fox on how to win. You see, this fox had been to almost 20 cock fights and its experience was invaluable.
Often, having a mentor in your career is priceless. Knowledge and ideas will only win a newbie half the game. What you lack is experience. While our own career experience and expertise will come as time passes, learning from the experience of our mentors helps us through the journey immensely.
Young adults should connect with their seniors to pick up invaluable skills, learn from their experiences, gain insights into industries or even seek jobs.
More importantly, a good mentoring relationship will help shape your career path and give you more clarity towards your goals. Just like the rooster, who overcame its physical limitations through strategic relationship with the fox to win the cock fight.
Arguably, Generation-Y is more connected than previous generations. However, the question is, are you connected to the right people? There are those out there who are able to present you with opportunities otherwise unavailable to you. Tap into their wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts.
Helen Keller was mentored by Anne Sullivan, Henry Davis Thoreau was mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Dr Martin Luther King was mentored by Dr Benjamin E. Mays. These successful people understood the importance of asking for help.
Very often, teenagers and young adults are apprehensive about approaching their seniors for advice.
The rooster’s strength is in its fearlessness in asking for help from one of the strongest and most powerful animals in the village.
If you are convinced of the importance of getting a mentor, the question now will be how to do it. It is not achieved by following your role model on Twitter or adding a top notch entrepreneur on Facebook.
Building a collaborative, sustainable relationship requires patience, determination and most importantly, courage. There are several ways to find a mentor while you are in school or university. You could approach someone you regard as a role model. However, do bear in mind that not all achievers are good teachers.
Here are several ways to find a good mentor:
> Excel at what you do
This may seem rudimentary but it is crucial. After all, birds of a feather flock together. Excellence will attract the big guns to offer you mentoring or career advice.
The ability to deliver beyond expectation indicates your potential, which is a star quality sought by successful people. Since they are going to be devoting their time, energy and efforts into this relationship, they would want to ensure that it would be fruitful.
> Ask for help
Very often, people are willing to help if you ask them for it. If you are facing a dilemma about which course to pursue, talk to your seniors or teachers. They know your strengths and weaknesses, so they will be able to offer you suggestions that will help you make a decision.
If you are planning to do an internship, start by contacting relevant companies. Leave your ego behind and start asking for help!
> Attend networking events and career fairs
In these events, it is easy to find like-minded people pursuing the same career or one within the industry you are interested in. Engaging in small talk may lead you to a suitable mentor or role model.
After all, you would never know whom you are talking to; it could be the head of human resources. Perhaps what is more important than making contacts is maintaining the relationships after such events.
> Be open-minded
A mentor may not be a busy, high-flying executive. It could be a teacher, boss, parent or friend. Sometimes mentors are found in unassuming situations. Oprah Winfrey’s mentor was her fourth grade teacher Mrs Duncan. A mentor needs to be able to see the star in you and make it shine!
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