— 04.07.17 —

Create Your Own Path: Why Mentoring Matters

Co-CEO Ali Mahaffy shares reflections on the power of mentoring.

  • April 7, 2017

Create Your Own Path: Why Mentoring Matters

“Define your path and invite those whom you call mentors to join you on your journey because they will likely learn something from you along the way. I know I did this week.”

Ali Mahaffy attended Mentoring Monday this week along with 300 woman eager to learn and connect with Kansas City’s top businesswoman. See her reflections on the experience and the importance of mentoring in a column published in the Kansas City Business Journal.

If you considered being part of the Kansas City Business Journal Mentoring Monday and didn’t, I’m urging you to make room on your calendar next year. I had an inspiring experience ­— and I’m confident I share that feeling with many powerful women across the country.

I joined the group this year as a mentor but was quickly reminded that each of us play both roles, as a mentor and mentee, in so many discussions — not just at specific events such as Mentoring Monday, but each and every day in our professional and personal lives.

Many of my discussions on Monday were focused on taking the right path, or exploring new options, or making a decision about what’s next. It struck me that making those types of decisions always requires asking yourself the same tough questions first. Because to get to where you want to go, you first need to understand your own unique True North.

Your definition of success may not be the same as that of your role model or mentor, or it may look different from the “established norms.” That can feel uncomfortable. Embrace it. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable because most great new ideas fly in the face of convention.

Thinking back on my career, I have found the uncertainty of new beginnings and uncharted territory to be empowering. Two years ago, I began a position new for our agency and relatively unique to C-suites globally. As co-CEO and the first female in our agency in this position, my co-CEO and I were encouraged by those both inside and outside our agency to simply blaze the trail we believed in and teach others as we learned.

I later realized that what felt like an incredible challenge led to an opportunity to create a unique direction for our company and give others the chance to take on new adventures and responsibilities with courage.

I felt a similar sense of courage when I arrived at Mentoring Monday, one woman among hundreds in Kansas City and thousands nationally, listening with intention and challenging other leaders to move forward in a direction only they can choose. While others may have traveled a similar path, it doesn’t necessarily mean it should or must be traveled the same way again.

Define your path and invite those whom you call mentors to join you on your journey because they will likely learn something from you along the way as well. I know I did this week.

Mentoring Monday will be an annual event on my calendar. To listen and advise, to be sure, but also to learn and grow.

Mahaffy is co-CEO of Sullivan Higdon & Sink and a member of the 2010 class of Women Who Mean Business.

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