A Career Journey Wake up Call

By Edith Mwiyombela on 07 Feb 2022Career Development


Many years  back I was scheduled for a performance appraisal session; we went through the objectives and reviewed  how the whole year went by;  towards the end of the meeting the discussion was concluded  by a brief feedback session. Our feedback discussions were always very interesting; there was something to look forward to.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”– Bill Gates

During the feedback discussion, my line manager outlined my strengths and then she said I have one area that I think you should work on - You need to make your development a priority. I was astonished and I tried to quickly gather a response for her statement. She went further and said; “I really commend you for being so supportive in making sure that employees are being developed (as per my role in the organization) but I think you should make time and think about your development plan and share with me.

Then there was an awkward silence. I could not find the right words to respond or keep the conversation going.  I managed to pull a smile; that was supposed to express my gratitude for the feedback. Well…I hope it did. The meeting ended and I went back and digested about what we discussed.

All along, I thought focusing on my development was being selfish, inconsiderate and all the words in between. However when you think of it, it is actually the opposite; how can you pour from an empty cup? You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

To whoever is reading this article right now; the ones who think the same way i did. The “Edith” in you makes you think your development can wait. And you feel, you have to fulfill other responsibilities in your life first.  Allow me to quote:

“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort  – Calvin Coolidge

That meeting made me realize that I need to intentionally execute on identified actions in my Personal Development Plan.

If you want to grow you have to be intentional about it. It will not just happen organically.

May be you are asking yourself how can I be intentional about my growth. Among other things this is how I think you can be intentional about your growth:


Do Not Walk Alone ~ Find a Mentor

What is mentoring? Our working definition comes from Eric Parsloe:

Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.

Hence, a mentor is someone who can play the role explained in the definition by Parsloe.

This person will be responsible to offer you support and advice whenever you need. The good thing about having a mentor is she/he can make you more accountable for the actions you commit to execute in your journey towards growth and development. It is important to remember that mentoring can take many shapes and forms.

Principles to Remember

  • Create a network of people you TRUST that you can turn to whenever you need advice regarding your career or life in general
  • Make sure you nurture the professional relationships you create; add value to their purpose and mission or career
  • As I mentioned mentoring can take many shapes and forms. Some can last for long some do not.
  • Make sure you have done a thorough self-assessment before you commit to a serious mentorship relationship. You have to be crystal clear about your objectives towards the relationship
  • You are the driver of the mentorship relationship and not your mentor or mentors. Make effort to get in touch with them. Be determined. 

 “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” – Denzel Washington

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” – John C. Maxwell

I wish you all the best in your development journey.