I’d like to say that when I was younger I knew exactly what I was doing with my life and where I was going – but the truth is that in the early years I really just sort of ‘wandered about’ without any clear direction or defined goals. And I do believe that some of the paths I did have in mind back then would likely have led to a destination I wouldn’t be happy with today.

But how do you know what you don’t know?

A colleague had asked me the other day about my professional trajectory, which prompted me to reflect on the extent of other peoples’ influences on my life. This is a point I think I conveniently tend to forget – after all, doesn’t it feel better to take all of the credit for your positive choices and successes?

But in my reply to my colleague I reflected on two separate conversations I had in my early 20’s: one with a more experienced coworker, and one with my boss at the time. I won’t go into the details, but I will say that a couple of 20-minute discussions truly did change my life.

These two people apparently recognized my strengths and understood my struggles. Their suggestions for my professional development came unsolicited; and as I look back I know I probably would never have asked.

If I hadn’t taken advantage of their wisdom when it came to me, I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. It’s impossible to predict just where I would have ended up, but I do know that I am very happy with how it’s all played out so far…

So, to me, those two short conversations were powerful mentoring moments that shifted the course of the rest of my life. I’ve learned that mentorship can come in the form of a structured, formal program; or that it can show up as an impromptu 20-minute conversation while throwing the football around during a work break.

Who’s helped you out through their words of wisdom? How did that change your life? Were there moments in your life in which you wish someone had offered up their knowledge? When have you been a mentor, and how could this have potentially changed a life?

The point is to not hold back. Share your wisdom. You never know the impact you may have with your words. And the bonus is that the more we give, the more we get back – and the happier we are!

Author's Bio: 

Chris Hammer, Ph.D. is a certified professional coach and licensed psychologist. He offers leadership and life coaching services, as well as various self-development tools for people who are passionate about reaching higher levels of success and becoming the best they can be.

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