The Howells Group Blog

Career Accelerator #4 Traveling Partners

Traveling Partners

Traveling Partners to Accelerate Your Career

So much of our American culture makes me proud; the pure grit, inventiveness and  desire ( though not yet fully realized ) to allow every individual to flourish. But when it comes to our careers, rugged individualism is a myth. When I look at my journey, it’s so clear that I stand on the shoulders of SO many women and men; those who’ve coached, encouraged, warned, advised and made the journey with me!

Reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”, it struck me how many powerful and significant “traveling partners” that supported her to ascend to the level of leadership we see her at today. Brains, talent, education and skill are never the whole story; even in Sheryl’s success story. Lawrence Summer is just one of the significant mentors and coaches that made a difference for her. Mentors, coaches, colleagues – all these people on the journey help us and allow us opportunities to support them. Attempting to go it alone is not only less effective- it’s ultimately less satisfying. Here’s a few tips I’ve gathered on my 30+ year trek when it comes to finding “traveling partners”:

  1. Be open. If you are too focused on what’s expedient or what’s in it for you, you will miss opportunities. Enter every situation with an openness to who you might meet, who you might help and what might be possible. Be attuned to unexpected people and unexpected opportunities!
  2. Think long term.  I’Ve observed that professionals gain a great deal when they are focused beyond the expedient moment.  In our 24/7 spin, it’s so easy to be overly focused on “who can help me now”. I have a treasure chest of true stories of how meaningful connections brought me both growth and business – for years.
  3. Follow your heart not just your head. Relationships are not a transaction… When you resonate to someone’s philosophy, style, values or intellect – pay attention! I’ve learned that this resonance is more meaningful than someone’s resume or CV. Who they are matters. Foster relationships with those that bring out your best, challenge you and enable you share who you really are.
  4. Look for various aspects in various people you’d like to emulate.I’ve found mentors and role models with outstanding characteristics that have enriched my life and career. Looking for one person can be a mistake. I’ve taken bits and pieces of brilliance from so many generous mentors; some with amazing strategic ability, others possess ingenuity, and others who demonstrate how to love others and connect in the context of business. Stop looking for the perfect mentor and wake up to the gifts of those right in front of you.
  5. Be grateful. Know that those who take the time to meet with you, speak with you, spend time with you are sacrificing to serve. Say thank you. Whether its a voice mail or a handwritten note, express your gratitude. This will immediately distinguish you in the overly entitled culture. As the late and grate Maya Angelou famously said” People will forget what you told them; but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

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