Many professionals credit their successes to someone else — a boss, a partner, or more commonly, a mentor.
And while yes, inspiration and guidance can be incredible motivators in one’s career, mentors are not necessarily key.
In a recent LinkedIn post, Ryan Holmes, the CEO of Hootsuite, explains that amidst his success launching the comprehensive social media management app, he never found a mentor — and it never set him back or slowed him down. (In fact, he claims the search caused him a bit of unnecessary stress.)
“When I was a business major in college, everyone talked about how critical is was to find a good mentor, ” he writes. “In the end, I found it almost stressful when I didn’t end up finding one. I asked myself back then: Was I missing a important piece of the puzzle to my future success?”
When posed with the question of who inspired him in his career, Holmes instead chose to address the concept of self-motivation. He discussed the career of Markus Frind, PlentyofFish founder and CEO, who just sold his company for a cool $US575 million — despite having “no investors, few friends in the industry and, as far as I know, zero mentors.”
“Much like Frind, I’ve never had a single ‘Mr. Miyagi-type’ mentor to guide me,” Holmes writes.
And he says that while career mentorship can be extremely beneficial (and definitely not something to shy away from), professionals shouldn’t feel incomplete without someone to look up to, or turn to at the first sign of trouble.
If you don’t have someone in your life who has inspired your every career move, don’t feel disadvantaged. It just signifies you have the ability to self-start — and, ultimately, draw inspiration from a variety of people and outlets.
“We must be able to take in the variety of different ideas, opinions, and experiences we come across through our work and consolidate it all into our own valuable truths,” Holmes writes in the LinkedIn post.
“My real point here is that the idea that we each need a single career guru to swoop in and solve all of our most important problems is a one-size-fits-all approach,” he explains. “If you haven’t found that perfect mentor, it’s not necessarily a sign that you’re on the wrong track or that your vision is doomed to fail … It could just be that you don’t need one, after all.”
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