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Embracing Obstacles Through the Power of a Mentor Who Shares Their Setbacks

In the pursuit of success, whether it be finding a new job, seeking a new career avenue, or starting your own gig, many individuals often seek mentors who are synonymous with achievement and triumph. However, there is a growing recognition that a mentor who candidly shares their failures with you can be an invaluable guide on the path to success. Embracing setbacks, learning from mistakes, and navigating through challenges are integral components of personal and professional growth. This article explores the profound impact of having a mentor who openly shares their failures, highlighting how such transparency can be a catalyst for one's own success.

 

Learning from Experience

 

Mentors who share their professional or career failures offer a unique opportunity for mentees to learn from real-world experiences. Success stories often paint an incomplete picture, omitting the struggles, setbacks, and moments of self-doubt that accompany any journey. A mentor who is willing to discuss their failures provides a more comprehensive and authentic view of the road to success, allowing mentees to gain insights that textbooks and seminars may not provide. Keeping it “real” is the best way to learn and grow. An example of this would be a mentor who shares their career detours, why they happened and how they overcame them. Afterall, hindsight is 20/20.                                                                                                         

 



Understanding Resilience

 

Success is great, but failure is an inevitable part of any ambitious pursuit, and resilience is the key to bouncing back. A mentor who shares their failures serves as a living testament to resilience, demonstrating that setbacks are not roadblocks but steppingstones. Witnessing how a mentor handles failure, such as the reason they lost a job, contract, or general opportunity – dusting themselves off, learning from the experience, and forging ahead – imparts invaluable lessons in resilience. Getting this information directly from “the horse's mouth,” equips mentees with the mindset and tools needed to navigate their own challenges with grace and determination.

 

Fostering a Growth Mindset

 

A mentor who openly discusses their failures helps foster a growth mindset in their mentees. Rather than viewing mistakes as insurmountable obstacles, a growth mindset perceives them as opportunities for learning and improvement. When a mentor shares stories of their own failures, they instill the belief that challenges are not indicators of incompetence but rather crucial components of the journey toward success. The pieces of the journey are important to the learning process just as much as the clinical overview.

 

Building a Supportive Relationship

 

Vulnerability builds trust, and a mentor who shares what really happened along the way, in addition to factoids that humanize them on the road to success, creates a more authentic and supportive relationship with their mentee. Only hearing the hero side of your mentor’s success does not allow for a level playing field. The mentor becomes relatable only when being exposed to the 360 view and the mentee feels more comfortable seeking guidance and sharing their own struggles. This open communication fosters a stronger bond, enhancing the mentorship experience. The mentee is more likely to approach challenges with a proactive attitude, knowing that their mentor is not a flawless figure but a resilient individual who has faced adversity.

 

Encouraging Innovation and Risk-Taking

 

A mentor who shows their journey’s flaws encourages a culture of innovation and risk-taking. Knowing that failure is not a taboo topic but a natural part of the journey, empowers mentees to explore innovative ideas, take calculated risks, and push their boundaries. This culture of experimentation can lead to breakthroughs and discoveries that might not have been possible in a more risk-averse environment.

 

At the end of the day…

You may ask, “so how do I find a good mentor?” Finding the right mentor is not easy but it is possible. We have seen that the best places to find one are at industry networking events, past or present places of employment, among family and friends, your place of worship and niche specific groups. However, the most important thing in identifying your mentor is asking the right questions. This will help you identify if the potential mentor is truly willing to share the guts of the obstacles that they overcame and the lessons they learned along the way.


In the pursuit of success, the value of a mentor who shares their failures cannot be overstated. By offering a transparent view of the challenges they faced and the lessons they learned, such mentors provide a roadmap for navigating the complexities of the journey to success. The wisdom gained from these experiences equips mentees with resilience, a growth mindset, and the confidence to embrace failure as an integral part of their personal and professional development. Aspiring individuals should actively seek mentors who are not just successful but also willing to share the stories of their setbacks, recognizing that these narratives hold the keys to unlocking their own paths to success.

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