Be your own Yoda.

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Taken from my Linkedin Blog.

In this series, professionals thank those who helped them reach where they are today. Read the posts here, then write your own. Use #ThankYourMentor and @mention your mentor when sharing.

For those of you who follow my posts, You’ll know that Good old Sir Richard Branson is one of my biggest inspirations, and through his books, has mentored me from a distance.”Screw it, lets do it,” and “Screw Business as Usual” are two awesome books on business that I always have with me. I remember reading “losing my virginity” for the first time and I was just in awe. What an outstanding career! They keep me inspired, help keep fresh ideas buzzing in my head, and they’re just a breath of fresh air when you are trying to tackle a new venture.

Obviously, working for him and meeting him in the flesh was one of the highlights of my working life so far, and for that, I say “thanks Rich!” for giving me opportunities to travel the world, and for keeping my business brain cogs whirring, and keeping me inspired when I want to just go home and eat my feelings. His unique and fresh take on tackling every obstacle and opportunity that comes his way, some times right down to the wire, with that cheeky Virgin wink are the reason he inspires not just me, but countless entrepreneurs and budding business junkies around the world.

But that’s not really a mentor is it?

Look up the definition of “mentor” on-line, and this is the sort of thing you are looking for:

  • Mentorship, the developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner referred to as a mentee or protégé

I can rack my brain for days, and sorry, nope, I cant think of one. Don’t get me wrong, there are countless people who have been there for me in my career, right from school, leaving uni to start my first proper job in Aberdeen, to my colleagues at Thomas Cook for teaching me everything I know about selling holidays, to my team mates and managers at England Associates, who  are probably getting bored of me asking questions about the construction industry. But they’re not really mentors, they’re just an awesome bunch of people who have helped me on my career path. If I classed all of these individuals as mentors, this would turn in to one heck of a blog piece.

There is one other person who has in their own special way, mentored and inspired me to keep on pushing and working hard.

It’s someone I met on my first day high school. For the last 16 years she has been by my side, offering ideas and encouragement whenever I need it. Even when we were living 600 miles apart, we were inspired by one another and now, she gets to inspire new brains, and will no doubt become a mentor to countless students (she is a primary school teacher now, and I am SO proud).

We often spend a lot of time looking for mentors within our own profession, but sometimes, by looking outside of your own work bubble, we can become mentored by those who do something completely different to what we do every day. The reason my best friend is my mentor, is because we have an unbiased opinion of what each others job is, so give a completely neutral decision, while at the same time, helping each other to develop and progress in our careers. (If she hadn’t encouraged me to make the move down South, I might not have been in the position I am, writing a blog about how she mentors me).

But do we really need to have a mentor?  

Reading the blogs from the many LinkedIn Influencers I’ve followed in this series, the one that stood out to me the most was by Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite. He talks about how, like many of us, he didn’t have a mentor to guide him through the highs and lows of his career. It made me realise that it is absolutely fine to not actively seek out one particular person to follow and learn from, and that, like me, it can be more beneficial to be your own Yoda, learn from your own mistakes, misfortunes and mishaps. That, after all, is the foundation of entrepreneurship, and in recruitment, this is a trait that goes hand in hand with sales when building your own desk (or empire, depending on your outlook). Keep inspired by those you look up to, keep the friends and family who encourage you close, but at the end of the day, it is only you that can determine your career. Be your own mentor. Never give up, and occasionally, throw caution to the wind and say “Screw it! Lets do it!”

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