Confession: I’m a Tim Gunn fan.
Tim Gunn is the chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne and one of the mentors on the reality television program Project Runway. He’s known for telling designers to “Make it work!” during the competition.
Naturally, I was very excited to hear that he would be speaking at the Massachusetts Conference for Women along with Sophia Amoruso, author of the book #GIRLBOSS and founder of the fashion brand Nasty Gal, named one of Inc. Magazines fastest growing companies.
My takeaway from their session was this: Be your own mentor.
That’s right. Don’t wait for anyone else to help you. Be tenacious and create your own success. Rely upon you – and not anyone else – to turn your goals into reality. It was an interesting message coming from a guy that makes his living being a mentor on television. But he and Amoruso pointed out four things about mentors that convinced me there is some truth in their advice:
- Your mentor cannot define success for you. So true. Everyone’s version of success is different. You have to define what success looks like for you.
- Your mentor can’t want your success more than you do. To be successful, you have to want your success more than anyone else.
- Your mentor cannot tell you what to do. Yes, they can make recommendations, but at the end of the day, you have to do it. No one else is going to do the work.
- Your mentor cannot make you successful. Notice the three items we’ve just talked about. You have to define success, want success, and work toward success.
While I totally get it, this isn’t as easy as it looks. Gunn and Amoruso admitted that not everyone has the same opportunities in work and life. But they were both passionate about the importance of individuals taking control of their own learning – whether that’s by watching a video, reading a book, or listening to a podcast. I thought the advice they offered about becoming your own mentor could be applicable for anyone at any stage of their career.
- Give yourself permission to discover yourself.
- Do all you can with what you have.
- Get comfortable with radical ideas.
I could see these mantras being something I’d want to look at and remind myself on a regular basis. Especially when I think I’m stuck. Remembering that I’m a work in progress. Making the most of the resources I have. And being open to new and very different ideas. Those aren’t necessarily things I need a mentor for.
Those are things as Gunn would say, I need to “make it work!” for myself.
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