What is a mentor?
A mentor helps guide someone to their goals. A mentor helps a protégé become the best they can be. Normally, a mentor uses their own experience to teach valuable life lessons and traits to their protégé.
For me, my mentor has always been my oldest sister. My oldest sister, Mudra is 25 years old and the manager of corporate global strategies for a billion dollar pharmaceutical company.
Motivation and Passion
Mudra went to college at Rutgers University and joined a few organizations on campus. I do not believe she ever had a position in a leadership capacity but I was lead to believe that much of what she did for any of the organizations was invaluable. She would never slack off in any task she was given or complain or let others bring her down. Mudra often told me that a strong work ethic is great but passion is critical. I took this to mean that it’s great to work hard and accomplish all the tasks that are set out for you, but you really need to see the value of that work. The value of that work is what I would now consider equivalent to Simon Sinek’s concept of Why and the Golden Circle.
The why asks if you know why you are doing what you are doing? Similarly, Mudra explained that passion is needed to make your own work get done faster and that it is a type of motivation that is tangible. Other people can feel your passion and tend to rise to the occasion.
The more my sister told me about the various tasks she had to do through work or a college organization the more I realized she is a linchpin. A linchpin is someone that holds everything together and creates forward motion. Mudra tended to be the backbone of her organizations because she created forward motion. She accomplished her tasks and set the stage for new more efficient projects.
Being a commodity?
Mudra had 2 promotions within a span of 2-3 years. She made herself invaluable to her company. “Always make yourself a commodity.” A commodity is a marketable good with a value. My sister told me that it meant to never stop striving to be the best and always continue learning to make yourself invaluable. Initially, I thought that it was literal and you had to make yourself smarter or more efficient. However, I’ve read more on the topic of leadership and look at her words in a different light. To be a commodity does not mean to be just the smartest it means to be invaluable to not just the company but the people in that company. Mudra has told me of the work she does with her team when she was a starting economic analyst in the company. She took passion in her work. She made sure the people around her got their work done. They were a team in the sense that if one of them failed or did a bad job then they all did.
Through this teamwork and her drive to reach the top, Mudra was promoted twice. She supported her team and help them become a cohesive unit, and this trait was recognized.
The two concepts I’ve taken away from all the talks with my mentor are: “A strong work ethic is great but passion is critical” and “Always make yourself a commodity.”