I recently got an e-mail from a former workmate, asking if I’d be willing to join him for a coffee or a meal to give “some career advice […] and honest opinion[s].”
I’m very flattered and I like doing this sort of thing for many reasons.
First of all, this particular guy is someone I have a lot of respect for… smart, driven, and clearly sincere. Helping someone like that is fodder for great karma and just a pleasure overall.
But the “help” isn’t a one-way street. While I’ve unfortunately gotten very little direct mentoring in my work life so far, I’ve learned a great deal from those I’ve mentored… from interns to colleagues in different departments and so on.
That may seem cliched — the mentor becoming the mentored — but it’s quite true and much appreciated. In particular, when giving career advice, I’m forced to do some deep thinking and soul searching on my own.
– How did I get to where I am? How much of it was planned vs. serendipitous?
– What are some of the mistakes I’ve made? How can I recognize the warning signs in the future and avoid future pitfalls?
– If I could go back in time, what would I tell a Past Adam careerwise?
– What do I have to be thankful for in my career?
And, despite an untraditional and often challenging, aw hell, even oft frustrating set of career experiences… I have an enormous amount to be thankful for. Reflecting upon my blessings in this context not only provides me with guidelines and encouragement to give to others… it also serves to consciously remind me of what makes me happy and motivates me in my career.