When we’re in school, we see it as the only route forward, the only way to thrive. Whilst education is of course important, it is not the only piece of the puzzle to unlocking success.
We look at people such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and more who all ended their education early, but went on to have incredible careers. What did all of these people have in common? They all had a mentor.
As I reflect on my journey from a school dropout at 17, to the CEO and Co-Founder of a successful business, I am struck by the invaluable lessons that mentoring has taught me. While traditional education undoubtedly provides a solid foundation, it was through mentorship that I truly learned the detailed ins and outs of business – lessons that school simply couldn’t impart.
At 17, I made the unconventional decision to drop out of school. It was a risky move, but one that I felt was necessary to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions. Looking back, it was a pivotal moment that set the stage for my future growth and eventual Forbes listing. School taught me many things, but it couldn’t provide the real-world experience and hands-on learning that I needed to succeed in business. Whilst I was able to find a job post schooling, I struggled to find a mentor who could truly guide me in my career. So, with the goal of making mentoring more accessible to everyone, I founded PushFar, an online mentoring platform, in 2018.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned through mentoring is the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you. In the business world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have all the answers, and naturally, it can feel nice to be the brightest person in the room. But the truth is, no individual has all the answers. By surrounding myself with mentors who had diverse backgrounds and experiences, I was able to gain invaluable insights and perspectives that I could never have gained on my own.
Embracing failure is another crucial lesson that mentoring has taught me. In school, failure is often seen as something to be avoided at all costs. If you fail a test, you can find yourself in detention. If you can’t complete a project, you get a letter sent home. But in business, failure is inevitable – it’s how you respond to failure that truly matters, that truly shapes you into becoming the best version of yourself. My mentors taught me to view failure not as the end of the road, but as an opportunity for growth and learning. Each setback taught me something new and ultimately made me stronger and more resilient because of this.
Mentoring has also taught me the importance of learning quickly and independently. In the fast-paced world of business, there’s no time to wait for someone else to teach you what you need to know. If you wait to be taught, someone else will beat you to opportunities and you’ll find yourself filled with regrets. You must be proactive and seek out knowledge on your own. My mentors encouraged me to take ownership of my own learning and to never stop seeking out new opportunities for growth.
There’s a confidence crisis within schools and the world as a whole currently. Our latest research showed that 57.3% of Brits experience imposter syndrome, which in turn, leads them to doubt themselves. Trusting myself and my instincts was a valuable lesson that mentoring instilled in me. In business, there are countless decisions to be made every day, and there’s often no clear-cut answer. My mentors taught me to trust my gut and to have confidence in my own abilities. They showed me that sometimes you have to take risks and trust that things will work out in the end.
But the most important thing to learn, is that sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes you’re going to fail and you need to be prepared to do so. The crucial part is, how are you going to react to that failure? My mentors taught me that it’s okay to fail – as long as you learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward. They showed me that failure is not the end of the road, but rather a stepping stone on the path to success. It’s not about the failure in the end, it’s about how you come back from it and grow not only in business but as a person too.
Mentoring has taught me invaluable lessons about business that school simply couldn’t provide. From that dropout moment at 17, to surrounding myself with smarter people, embracing failure, learning quickly and independently, trusting my instincts, and being prepared to fail – these are the lessons that have shaped me into the entrepreneur I am today. And for that, I am eternally grateful to my mentors who have guided me along the way.