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Why Everyone Needs a Good Mentor

Source | LinkedIn : By Roger W. Ferguson

What I consider my “big break” happened when I was a senior in college. As my peers busily applied for jobs, I was unsure about what direction to take. My major – and passion – was economics, but I was also drawn to the law. My gut was telling me to follow a path that combined the two. But because I didn’t know anyone who had done that, it seemed like a “crazy idea” to my 21-year-old brain.

Enter Elisabeth Allison. Then an associate economics professor (and one of my favorite teachers), she took the time to listen to me. She made it seem okay that I had not yet decided on a career path. Most important, she didn’t find my idea crazy at all; rather, she encouraged me to explore it further, introducing me to some of her peers in the economics department whom I was able to tap for insights.

Thanks to her support and encouragement, I ultimately decided to follow the path that felt right to me – no matter how unconventional it might have been – pursuing both a law degree and a Ph.D. in economics. It’s one of the best decisions I ever made, because it laid the foundation for what has been a wholly fulfilling and meaningful career grounded in my deepest passions and interests.

I feel a deep debt of gratitude to Elisabeth Allison. Her advice and encouragement not only helped to shape my thinking about my future, but also made me feel comfortable trusting my instincts and marching to the beat of my own drummer. By doing that, I was able to achieve success on my own terms. At the time, I doubt that she had any idea how much of an impact she made on me. But looking back these many years later, it’s clear that her mentorship made a profound difference at a pivotal point in my life.

I think everyone – and especially young people – needs a mentor, or more likely multiple mentors throughout the course of life. Good mentors play an invaluable role. They help you shape your thinking about life choices. They allow you to tap their insights and worldly wisdom, enabling you to make better decisions. They listen, guide, educate, and provide constructive criticism. They are practical and supportive. They help you create your own definition of success

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