Unless you’re trying to do something no one else on the planet has ever accomplished or even conceived of, then you are not the first. No one is you so they won’t have done exactly what you’re going to do from your perspective or with your intentions, but if you want to become a manager or president of the company for instance, and you know others have become managers before you, then they have experiences you don’t.
Avoid pitfalls and fast track your way through mazes
They have knowledge of some of the pitfalls awaiting you and short cuts to get you to your destination faster. They gained experience along the way and have connections with people who have helped them. So if you want to stubbornly do every single thing for yourself, make all your own mistakes, take longer to achieve your goals than necessary, waste time and expense pursuing avenues that aren’t going to be of any help, then by all means work away diligently by yourself. However if you want to speed things along, avoid potholes, fast track your way through inevitable mazes, then find yourself a mentor.
You can have more than one mentor
Don’t just find yourself a mentor, find several. Sticking with the manager example, you won’t only have to become good at one thing, you’ll have to become strong at a host of things. Relationship building, finances, time management, etc. etc. etc.
If your network is extensive enough, why not find people who are strong at different things and get them to mentor you on those things. For example if you know someone who is especially great with people, take that person out for lunch or dinner and learn what they know. Visit them in a their professional environment. See them in action, talk to the people they work with. Get a perspective from the other side.
Instead of clearing a path through that jungle follow the path they’ve carved. Then follow another path already cleared by someone who’s spent tons of time becoming an expert on the shipping side of the business.
Pay it forward
The wheel only needed to be invented once. By taking advantage of mentors, people who can teach you and help you and inspire you, you’re fast tracking yourself to the time when you’ll be ready to forge your own path. The path someone else will follow when the time comes for them to start laying the groundwork for the manager they want to become.