Updated: Jul 15, 2020
I have been very fortunate in my life to have had several mentors, both formal and informal, who have helped shaped my life and career. Some are obvious such as parents and family friends others perhaps not so clear. As a former athlete I had several coaches which have made a positive impact. Within my career I have also been fortunate to learn, observe and have access to several Executives and Leaders.
One of my favorite books and a suggested reading for any Project Manager out there is, A Hand to Guide Me by Denzel Washington. The book is so much more than Denzel Washington's account of the impact of mentors in his life. He has collected letters from athletes, entertainers, executives, politicians each providing a first hand account of the power of mentoring. There is a clear message from all the contributors, Their "success" was in large part due to the impact mentors have had in their lives.
Project Managers are Leaders and it is important for us to recognize being a Leader carries with it an added responsibility. Others are looking to us, observing our actions and conduct. Watching how we direct teams and exchange communication. Perhaps, unbeknownst to us, as Leaders we are Mentors.
Also, we can not be successful alone. For us to reach our career goals it is important to recognize that others have walked before us. We can benefit form their wisdom and experiences. Seek out a Mentor to help you with the challenges you will soon be facing. Someone who can take time to listen and provide counsel. Someone who you can build a relationship with over time. Someone who can provide a hand to guide you on your career growth.
A few years back I decided to volunteer with the local PMI Chapter and become a Mentor. I approached this with some trepidation as I had never formally mentored and knowing the impact my mentors had on me I had set a high bar for myself. However, an interesting thing happened along the way. Many memories and learnings, some long forgotten, were re-awakened. It was as if I were the mentee once again. I found I was once again being mentored. The time mentoring was extremely rewarding for me and helped push me to starting my own mentoring program.
Along with good friend, Eric "Doc" Wright, I am co-founder of VPMMA. The Veteran Project Manager Mentoring Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization is an all volunteer organization which is focused on assisting Veterans, Servicemembers, and Military Spouses with civilian project management careers. We pair Veterans with experienced PMs in long-term mentoring relationships.
One of the great lessons from my mentors is to give back when you can. By starting VPMMA I have been able to give back to those who have served us and do it in a way that beneficial for the mentors as well. What lessons have you picked on your career journey which can help others?
How has your life been helped by mentors? Who has provided a Hand to Guide you?