Mentorship Over Coffee, Lesson #5: Make Sure What You’re Doing is Meaningful

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...I had my last mentorship session and I wanted to formally introduce this great leader. Courtney Pena, VP of Online Sales and Marketing at Rackspace, has been my mentor this past year. When I set out to find a mentor (you can read more why I did this in my first post), I wanted to ensure I chose someone that:

  1. I didn’t know personally but knew of
  2. Didn’t report into their organization
  3. Was a passionate, well respected leader
  4. Had a proven track record
  5. Lastly, was a mother

The reason for #5 is simply because I am a mother and I wanted to make sure that I spoke to someone that could relate to juggling a career and a family. I do, however, think that the advice she has given me can apply to any business professional.

It has been such an honor and pleasure to have had the opportunity to spend time with her to focus on the things that I wanted help with figuring out. I now report into her organization so I thought it was appropriate for us to complete the series.

In conclusion, our last session was golden. I wanted to know how does one know if moving up the corporate ladder was for them. Because if it’s not, how do you keep growing? How do you keep learning? How do you make sure that you’re relevant? I’ve never been one to go after a title or care to play the politics game but quite frankly, sometimes you have to. But that should never mean it overpowers you doing what you love doing.

It boils down to this, make sure that you wake up everyday excited to start your day because you know that what you’re doing is meaningful. Prior to her job at Rackspace, she went to work every day feeling guilty being away from her family. Her job was not worth that time. Now, at Rackspace, with two little boys in school, she feels good going to the office because she feels like she is doing something that is making a positive difference in the world. And you may think that is crazy to feel good about leaving your kids but it’s not, it’s perspective. I once read an Inc article, 5 Toxic Beliefts that Ruins Careers,  that had the best quote,

My emotions accurately reflect objective reality.
Some people believe that their emotions are caused by external events. In truth, though emotions are determined by the perception of those events, combined with preconceptions about what those events mean. Such people find it difficult or impossible to “get out of their own heads” and see situations from another person’s viewpoint.

I would continue to say that you are in power to create your own dream job and that job could have two components: you’re passionate about the company (yours or not) and you enjoy the function of your job. If one of the two are missing, you will never feel complete. When I decided to come back to Rackspace, I returned because I believed in the company. I honestly didn’t care too much about the job and role because I knew I could work my way to what I wanted to do. After these past three years, I have found a place that I really enjoy. I get the opportunity to tell stories. And to top it off, I do it for a company that I care about.

That’s not to say that there are struggles, because there are. I think that I have done so many roles – customer support, account management, customer loyalty programs, sales, marketing – and I have dealt with a variety of situations so I do know what the “other sides” look like. I worry sometimes that because I like what I do, I will pass opportunities to further grow. This is why I think mentors are so important. They will see things in you that you didn’t see before. They will see your true potential.

Thanks for reading my series, I hope you enjoyed it!

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