My first mentors, like most people, were my parents. From them, I have learned countless life lessons, but more importantly, they have taught me the value in relationships. I’ve learned that us humans truly need one another to succeed, and no technology can serve as an adequate substitute to a mentor. However, I did not previously have the same thoughts regarding mentorship as I do now. Before I had any professional mentors of my own, my honest and uneducated image of a one was that they would be someone wiser and significantly more successful than me whose purpose would be to lecture me on the secrets of life! With this narrow vision about mentors, I was wary to connect with others because I’ve never loved listening to formal talks from people whom I barely know. Yes, this initial image of a mentor was seriously skewed and, through time, I came to the conclusion that there was, in reality, no greater way to attain my goals than to use my network and seek the support that I needed to grow and succeed.
I have always been the type of person who does copious research before pursuing anything, whether if it’s for a new professional endeavour or just for something in my student workload. In either case, my biggest breakthrough moments have always been results from conversations with my mentors. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not nearly as successful with the suggested Google search results as I am with a person whose purpose is to help guide me and give suggestions to things that I would have never thought of. Honestly, any time I talk with my mentors, I learn something. It’s not always a breakthrough moment, but there has never been a useless conversation. Whether the takeaway is that I learn something new about them or something new about myself, when both people put in the time and effort, the relationship never stops benefiting both sides. I always aim to be a sponge during these meetings and absorb the knowledge that these great people give me, but it becomes difficult to remember it all. In order to not forget a memorable lesson, I write it down! On my phone, I keep a running note filled with many bits of wisdom from different people who said something that once sparked an interesting idea in my brain.
From time to time, I will go back and look at all the nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gathered from these extraordinary people. I thought that I’d share one of these little lessons, You don’t need to wake up one morning and be great, but you need to commit yourself to becoming just a little better every time. A little bit more effort every time adds up in the long run. This is something that stood out to me during a conversation I had with a mentor when we were talking about how to know if you’re making progress in life… Because with this new age of technology, everything moves so fast. Oftentimes, from the perspective that I have on my devices, it seems like greatness is achieved overnight, and no media platform shows mistakes or failures. While in reality, I’ve learned from every one of my mentors that the idea of failure is essential in the process of success. I sometimes still forget about the usefulness of failure because of the filter of perfection that I see that’s laid over every post, article, and status update.
What started as a small personal network that consisted of only my mom and dad has turned into a growing tree of connections. I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with those who aren’t so similar to me because that is how I believe that we all grow. By pushing the comfort zone, we allow ourselves to explore ideas and thoughts that may have never come to us alone. Through my mentorships, I’ve been able to learn about rejection and failure while simultaneously understanding how to better incorporate creativity, critical thinking, and an inquisitive mindset towards everything that I do. Mentorship is critical in both career and personal development because it fosters a non-competitive and supportive relationship that is a rarity today in most industries. Everyone has the capacity for greatness but those who truly succeed are the ones who utilize the minds of those around them.
by Eden Kavanagh ’21, recently pitched her business plan at the LA TanK Takes NYC through Loyola Academy.