I think the importance of mentorship in life and work can’t be overstated. I define “mentor” pretty generally. It doesn’t have to be a formal or structured relationship. To me, a mentor is any experienced or knowledgeable person who has an interest in providing help and support due to a personal connection, separate from any organizational responsibility. Thinking of it like this enables me to recognize and appreciate the shifting web of mentors I’ve had over my career. I also hope there a few I have mentored in the same way. Leaders can be mentors. Bosses can be mentors. Peers can be mentors. Friends can be mentors. And everyone can offer mentorship back.
I’ve been so lucky to benefit from the wisdom of many mentors. I especially value the simple, pithy, sayings and recommendations mentors offered me when I was struggling to solve problems, make tough decisions, or simply regain confidence. These thoughts not only helped and supported me in the moment, but to this day provide valuable touchstones that I return to over and over again.
I’d like to share a few of the best with you:
- Assume good will.
- Timeliness is part of quality. Quality is zero if the customer doesn’t have it.
- There is no perfect. It’s golf, not bowling.
- Hard decisions are easy. Is there a best choice? Take it. Are you struggling with two? They’re both fine; just pick.
- Do your best; nobody can do better.
- One way to increase your chances of getting what you want is to ask for it. They might say no if you ask, but they won't say yes if you don’t.
- One way to increase the chance of finishing is to start.
- One way to be sure something gets done is to do it.
- There are two reasons people don’t answer a question; because it’s too hard, and because it’s too easy.
- Work = force x distance. Don’t confuse effort with work.
- Panic is the enemy of progress.
- Don’t cry till you’re hurt.
- Never lie. It’s too hard to keep track.