I recently got a professional mentor. This was not something that had been penned down in detail in my goals for the year. What had been penned down is that I need to seize opportunities that will enhance my network.

So as a true choleric, I jumped on any networking opportunity that presented itself to me. This rather abstract goal led me to join a mentorship forum for Human Resource Professionals whose goal is to provide mentoring opportunities to HR professionals through peer mentoring.

Out of this, I got a professional mentor and I also got a mentee.

My first meeting with my mentor happened early this year. Let’s call her Alexa. To say that I was intimidated is an understatement. Alexa has achieved so much. She is a high-flying career woman, she has a C-suite job, and reports to the Board.

She is confident, she is witty and to wrap it all, she has an amazing sense of style.

Ok. Stop giggling.

I, on the other hand, have worked at my current job for eight years. I was not proud of my employer and I had been carrying this label that I work for the wrong organization.

It was for that reason that all my job applications had not been successful. So much negative vibe about my work situation.

So Alexa and I met at a beautiful restaurant and the conversation started with her telling me about herself. I wanted her job. She makes so much impact.

Isn’t that all that us millennials want, to make an impact?

Then the conversation moved to me. I told her about myself, my work situation and why I had signed up for a mentor. At the end of the meeting, Alexa told me that as part of the preparation for our next meeting, I need to identify the one thing I want to take out of our mentorship relationship once it came to an end.

It was a wonderful evening I must say.

When I got home later that night, I reflected back to my conversation with Alexa. It was like I was outside, looking into our conversation and I was deeply saddened by the picture that emerged. I started my career so positive, so energetic and with an attitude of I can handle whatever comes my way.

Eight years later, to sitting across my mentor, I had changed to this negative person who felt like she had no power.

This realization coupled with Alexa’s assignment on my expected outcome from the professional mentorship forced me to take a long hard painful look at myself. That was the only way I could change the narrative.

I must say that it was not easy. I took some time out to reflect on my life and I realized that it was no longer clear to me what my vision was professional.

The Bible says that my people perish because of a lack of vision. How true this is. If you do not know where you are going, anywhere is good enough. But anywhere is not good enough for me.

Anywhere is not good enough for anyone.

Self-reflection is hard and painful but necessary for you to scale to the next level of your career - Priscah Motogwa Click To Tweet

I want to live a life of purpose and a life of meaning and my career plays a huge part towards that. Pema Chödrön in his book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, says “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

Self-reflection is hard. Self-reflection is painful. But self-reflection is necessary for you to scale to the next level of your career.

Do I now know what my vision for my professional life is? Yes.

Do I have a plan of how to achieve it? Yes.

It involves stepping out of my comfort zone by seeking opportunities that will make use of skills that I possess. Indeed, writing this article is stepping out for me. And so for my next meeting with Alexa, I know precisely what I want out of the professional mentorship I am being offered.

In the words of Denzel Washington, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influence in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.”

Fellow female professionals, do you want to scale the career ladder? My advice, get a mentor.

This article was written by Priscah Motogwa.


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