We all need career advice now and then, which is why having a trusted mentor is such an incredible opportunity for career growth. You can rely on them for their wisdom, their experience, and their connections, which makes them invaluable allies on your professional journey.
But mentors are people too, which means their advice isn't always going to hit the mark. You shouldn't be afraid to disregard your mentor's advice, no matter how crazy it feels to do so.
Here are two critical times when you shouldn't follow their advice:
1. When their feedback involves changing who you are on a fundamental level.
Sure, negative feedback can be helpful. But sometimes feedback can also be harmful - even when it doesn't seem negative. If you have a mentor whose feedback almost always involves changing who you are to get a role or get ahead, you might want to step back and assess the situation. How long, realistically, are you going to be able to sustain your efforts if you're working against who you are as a person?
Your mentor ideally should be able to see who you are and what path and roles would fit you as a person. However, not all mentors operate that way; many make suggestions based on what has worked for them, and many others just don't have the time to get to know you in order to tailor the advice to who you are. If they're giving you advice that runs contrary to who you are or your future goals, you should feel free to discard it, knowing that they're trying to be helpful but are off the mark.
2. When the only reason you want to follow it is to impress them or someone else.
As much as we'd like to, we shouldn't give in to the urge to do something just because it would impress other people. If you look up to your mentor and aspire to be like them, you're probably not thinking as clearly about what they're recommending as you could be. The next time they offer a recommendation, think about whether it actually fits your needs and goals or if it's just something you want to do because they want you to do it.
Your career is a long game. You're going to end up misfiring if you keep making decisions based on what other people want or think is impressive. Remember what's right for you and don't be afraid to pass on a mentor's recommendation if it doesn't align with your path.
Your mentor is looking out for your best interests, but don't forget that the only person who can make that call at the end of the day is you. So trust yourself and be the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to your future.