A key component to professional success is finding the right mentors and role models. These mentors should have experience in the career paths that we are interested in. As such, they provide much needed guidance in navigating the nuances of a particular field – medicine, surgery, research, education, biomedical innovation, motorsports, etc. (these are some of my interests). Mentorship was key in my success matching into an integrated plastic surgery residency. There were many aspects of the process that more experienced residents or attending physicians had intimate knowledge of, and without that insight my efforts may have been misguided and ultimately unfruitful.
That being said, however, it is also crucial to balance mentorship and guidance with confidently carving out your own path. Mentors have advised me to not do certain things, or that failure in certain endeavors was imminent due to having overly ambitious goals. If I had listened to them every time, I would have stifled my own growth and hindered many of my proudest accomplishments. As you may already know, I want to be much more than a plastic surgeon in the future – an educator, YouTuber, innovator, and leader among others. Because there isn’t anyone doing exactly what I will do in the future, it is difficult to find someone who fully understands my goals and aspirations.
It is therefore imperative to develop your own ability to judge what advice to listen to and what advice to politely disagree with. Developing this skill will come with time – as your confidence in your own ability grows, you will understand what “impossible” feats you believe you can actually do, and when you should actually step down and reconsider.