This week I got to chat with my mentor, I got to meet a new mentee (what we call colleagues we are mentoring), and got to have a productive career conversation with my boss. It coincidentally was the week I celebrated my 26th year with the company. As a result I was quickly reminded how valuable these conversations are…at all stages of a career journey, so I thought I’d share what came to mind…
Get a Mentor
It’s really easy in a corporate career to get lost in the swirl. I did…and to be honest I think I’m just coming out of it. I’ve always strived to hustle and perform my best, but without guidance and direction, I can feel like whatever I’m doing isn’t getting me anywhere (tires spinning in mud is what I’ve been saying to describe what I felt). What I’m reminded is that I’m not in this alone. My brief conversations with my mentor show me that others have experienced this before, and found a path for them, and they could help me find my path.
Be a Mentor
My experiences in my 26 years are valuable lessons for others. I had my first mentor session with a potential mentee, and instantly I became grateful for both the good experiences I’ve had and the bad…they’ve helped me become who I am at work, and at this moment provide insight to help others on their journey.
I think this is what I most valuable at this point in my career…to help others succeed…and part of that is to be a mentor to others.
Invest in Meaningful Conversation with your fellow Humans
I’ve also had meaningful conversations at work this week that are not about technology…they were about personal lives, college journeys for our kids, and more. What I’m reminded is that the more I share and engage with other humans the more that conversation helps both myself and the other person.
I become grateful for the things working well in my life, I receive cautionary tales of things that could go sideways in my life in a blink if I don’t continue to put effort into it, and I receive guidance for things I’m struggling with that the other person is succeeding in.
What it all Comes Down To
I’ve got about 16 years left. I told my mentor that regardless of specific path I take, my overall goal is to “Make these last 16 years the best of them all”. After these sets of conversations, I think part of making these coming years the best is to:
- Help others succeed – no matter what I do, how many I lead (or if I don’t officially lead anyone), or what projects I’m on, if I can help others succeed, it will add more meaning to my career than anything I succeed at personally.
- Keep Hustling – Keep the throttle down, keep learning, producing, delivering…all the while being nice and supportive of all that surround me
- Keep Perspective – Nothing I do in my career will last. Tech companies move so fast that even the most successful product will be replaced, enhanced, modified to the point where my individual contributions will disappear.
In the end, at least for me, it’s about relationships, helping others, and working hard. If, once I’ve left, I hear someone say, “Greg? He was a hell-of-a-guy” and says nothing about my technical achievements, that will be enough.