“In every art, beginners must start with models of those who have practiced the same art before them.”
— Ruth Whitman
While life in the sports and entertainment industry doesn't always feel like a form of art, there's certainly something to learn from this quote by poet Ruth Whitman.
Anyone who has ever started a new job knows how disorienting it can be. You don't know anyone, you don't know where to find a stapler and you get lost on the way to the bathroom. So what's the first thing you do? Seek out a veteran of the office to help you navigate your new surroundings.
None of us have gotten anywhere in our careers without someone, somewhere helping us along the way.
Interestingly, we're raised all our lives with mentors around us: math teachers, soccer coaches and parental figures dancing in and out of our lives. But somewhere along the way in adulthood, about halfway through your career, you look up and realize you forgot you needed help. This is why I decided to become a mentee in the WISE Within Mentor Program.
I loved the feeling that it was OK to ask for help and seek out advice. The group sessions, as well as the one-on-one time with my mentor, forced me to take a step back and evaluate my career instead of letting myself only get wrapped up in the day-to-day business of my job. I appreciated the feeling that someone else had been where I was and was willing to help guide me through.
But it’s easy to forget that it works both ways. The best way to really show someone how much you appreciate their help is by turning around and helping someone else. Or, as a movie starring Kevin Spacey reminded us, to “Pay it Forward.”
So upon “graduation” from the mentee process, when I was approached about becoming a mentor for someone just starting out in the industry, “paying it forward” wasn’t the only reason I was interested. While I certainly hope I can teach my mentee a few things, I said “Yes” mainly because I know that she can also teach me. After all, it’s never too late to stop learning.
And remember: “Paying it Forward” isn’t just the title of a movie. It’s a life and career philosophy we should all strive to live by.