Some people waste years trying to find a mentor. They spend valuable time networking, talking to people in top companies, in high ranking positions, all for the opportunity to find someone who agrees to mentor them.
Theoretically, this sounds like a good plan but it can backfire so easily. People are human, and jealousy can be a big factor in eroding the confidence of someone who has put her trust in her mentor to teach her how to avoid the pitfalls of the business world and steer her into a successful career.
In the beginning, she has a lot to learn and she may be very grateful for the guidance. However, many a student has been known to surpass her teacher and this is the point at which the mentor can start to feel threatened. He may resent his student’s success, especially if it rivals his own.
There are so many ways a mentor can undermine his student’s work and make her feel incompetent and wholly dependent on his expertise without her realizing how destructive the mentoring has become. And, because she has placed so much trust in his knowledge and experience in her field, she may not see the red flags of overstaying his guidance.
A good mentor will encourage his student to think for herself after she learns the basics and be willing to step aside and let her take the credit or the blame for her work. Mentoring should be an adjunct to her learning process; it shouldn’t take the place of her making her own mistakes and taking responsibility for them.
If the student is afraid to make mistakes, she will never survive in the cutthroat world of big business, in which case, she doesn’t need a mentor, she needs a counselor who can help her change her destructive patterns of behavior.
An alternative to putting her career in the hands of a single mentor might be for her to join different online business forums and to make good use of the Internet to ask questions and get different perspectives of people who have navigated the difficult shoals of the business world.
The thing to remember is that no one knows everything about anything so it is not to her advantage to have one mentor for all her learning experiences. She should pick the brains of a lot of successful people and use her own judgment.