At every stage in your career (and your life), you should be trying to meet all of the following conditions: have a mentor who is more experienced than you in a field you are interested in, have at least one partner who has similar experience for at least one new project, and mentor at least one other person who is less experienced than you. It is the right thing to do, and it will also make you more effective and build a larger network for yourself.
Many people view their careers as an individual effort, but for the vast majority of professionals that is just not how careers work. People by and large work in teams, and have career success through relationships–by learning from mentors and forming partnerships with colleagues to accomplish goals together.
This isn’t an accident, it’s how human beings are wired. Humans do not function well in isolation. Isolation has been linked to such maladies as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise. Partnerships, meanwhile, have the opposite effect. According to one of my favorite books, Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller’s The Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and In Life:
So we face a choice every moment of every day: We can fill one another’s buckets, or we can dip from them. It’s an important choice – One that profoundly influences our relationships, productivity, health, and happiness. – ‘Grandfather of positive psychology’ Donald Clifton and Tom Rath
In 1938, Harvard University initiated a study of 268 students. The researchers leading the study, later known as the Grant study, interviewed the individuals every few years to see how their lives and their careers would develop. At the time, researchers were most interested in studying men’s physiognomy – did these men’s “masculine” body types predict future success? Were the men who appeared more masculine more likely to achieve career and personal success?