Beware of Idolizing Your Mentor

November 14, 2012

I ran on the treadmill this morning watching The Today Show and witnessed teenage fans of One Direction in tears. I don’t fully understand why girls cry when they see idols…are they happy to be in their presence? Or, are they sad they’ll never get closer to them? For whatever reason, these girls were deifying people who are in many ways no different than themselves. Luckily, most fans don’t spend one-on-one time with their celebrity crushes, because the influence the celebs would have over these young girls would be scary.

Watching the fanatic girls reminded me of a friend who played zealous fan to her work mentor. The mentor was an impressive guy; smart, successful, and effortlessly charming. He was also a thoughtful manager and never hesitated to promote my friend within the company. But after a while, I realized she was imbuing him with god-like qualities. When my friend had to make an important career decision, she relayed her mentor’s analysis of her choices as if he could predict the future. I tried to explain that he was a smart guy but didn’t really know with certainty how her career was going to end up. I thought she might ask a few other senior colleagues if they had varying opinions. Turns out, she did and discovered that on the whole, the other advisors offered different counsel. She chose an option her mentor hadn’t supported and realizes now it was the right choice.

Mentors can be terrific influences to your career. Just don’t get star struck with any one advisor. Sometimes when it comes to advice, more is better. You be the ultimate judge.

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Terri Tierney Clark

Terri Tierney Clark


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