Good advice. It’s not just a core service we offer our clients. Here at Plancorp, we mentor each other as well. By learning from one another’s interests, experiences, and perspectives, we strengthen our teamwide talents, for our clients and ourselves.
Before I joined Plancorp, my dad was my first mentor. Whether he was coaching me through my homework or on how to change a tire, he taught me one life lesson early on: You don’t always have to go at it alone. But to get help, you sometimes have to ask for it.
Acting on Dad’s good advice, I recently asked several of our most seasoned financial professionals what principles have guided their lives and careers. Here are five common threads:
1. Look for a mentor/sponsor.
Developing life experience takes time. Accelerate your efforts by pairing with someone who has already passed the career milestones you now face. Learn what worked for them – and as importantly, what didn’t. Good mentors can help guide the way, and give you early insights into real-world career challenges, especially if you trust and can speak freely to each other. Even those with considerable life experience are still developing and honing these skills as they go. It helps to be able to talk candidly about the opportunities and challenges that await you.
2. Develop your people skills.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, you will most likely be interacting with other people. To enhance your relationships at work and home, be guided by those with experience in managing expectations and addressing conflicts. Whether you’re leading or learning (or both), be a good listener. Be empathetic. Facilitate conversations instead of forcing them. Encourage others to make their own decisions, instead of telling them what to do. Ask questions, rather than assuming you know best about someone else’s interests or needs.
3. Embrace life’s challenges.
We all have challenges and vulnerabilities. For instance, even if you have the right skills, unconscious biases can get in the way of optimal performance. The same can be said about others, so empathy remains key; you never know exactly what someone else is dealing with. When mentoring or being mentored, be wise in “choosing your battles.” Some arguments might not matter. When addressing an important issue, discuss it directly. It’s okay to get advice and ask for help. It’s also okay to sometimes fail. The more challenges you take on, the more experience you’ll gain, the more confidence you’ll build, and the more often you’ll ultimately succeed.
4. Continue to grow.
To find our way in life, we’re often told to follow our passions. But how do we do that? It’s partly a matter of grit and determination. If you think you’re settling for less than you wanted, you can either feel sorry for yourself, or do something about it. It’s also about remaining open to life-long learning, and continually challenging “good enough.” Become good at not only identifying the problems, but also at offering up practical solutions. And above all, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to succeed. Chances are, you’re the only one who can identify that.
5. Return the favors.
So far, these lessons remind me of the advice I heard often while growing up. This last one is my own contribution. A lot of us owe some of our success to someone else taking the time to help us along the way. Hopefully you’ve found your own trusted sources to help you build out your dreams and ambitions. As you evolve from mostly being mentored, to being in a position to mentor others, make sure to return the many favors bestowed on you. Especially, as my dad would add, if somebody asks!
Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be used as investment, tax, legal or accounting advice. All investing involves risk. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Diversification does not ensure a profit or guarantee against a loss. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors.