How To Make The Most From Mentorship

To Get You Where You Want To Go

I’m convinced that behaviors that appear to be instinctual may not come without the modeling we get from spending time with a mentor. In fact, I believe that mentoring is essential for acquiring the subtle things that can make the biggest difference to our success. I know it has for me and I am thankful for the many mentors God has put in my life.

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There are several “helping conversations” that can fuel both our personal growth as well as enterprise and each have their place. These would included teaching, mentoring, coaching and consulting.  Knowing the differences between these and when each is needed is important in order to get the most out of each of them.  If your curious about these differences, I’ve described and summarized them in a previous video post.

I do want to say a bit more about mentorship.  While mentorship is similar to teaching, there is a critical difference: mentorship imparts knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained through someone else’s personal experience. And while coaching often extends what mentorship begins, it too is very different. Mentoring is taking what God has given me and imparting that to you, whereas with coaching I’m taking what God has given you and drawing it out of you or making you aware of it. The former is taking your place on the stage as the Sage. The latter involves being a Guide on the side.  Both of these as well as teaching and consulting have their place… the right time and right context.

So how do you make the most out of your mentoring experiences? Here are six that I have found:

  1. Be humble- forget about whatever status or acclaim you’ve had in the past, assume the role of novice 10320952 - young college student tutoring an older classmate.and learner.
  2. Admire- remember it’s not all about you. Sincerely appreciate what attracts you to your mentor and do so in the right way, time and place.
  3. Understand- seek first to understand their perspective first instead of trying to show them how much you know.
  4. Give- reward and repay your mentor by seeking ways to add value back to them. Sometimes it comes by maximizing what you do with the mentorship you’ve been given, other times it’s something more reciprocal.
  5. Produce- successful people and companies won’t continue to give to what doesn’t reward them. Make sure you’re adding progressive value to the individual mentor as well as the enterprise.
  6. Communicate- know what to say, when to say it and how to say it. Sometimes the silence is just as important as the words spoken.

The reality is that you need great mentorship to maximize your success. And what you get out of your mentorship experience depends more on you than it does your mentor.

What do you need to do differently in order to maximize your own mentorship experience? More importantly, to what are you willing to commit?

Please leave a comment and share what you’ve found to be important in your own mentorship experience; you just never know who you might touch and provide some mentoring to along the way.

A Secret To Emotional Fitness And Mastery:

How To Gain A Competitive Edge!

There is no better example than the Olympic games to remind us that the difference between a gold medal and no medal is usually mere tenths of a second.  Emotional fitness and mastery is a lot like that. Sometimes the difference between getting a deal done, nurturing or ruining a relationship or simply enjoying or lamenting a pleasant evening at home comes down to the smallest differences in our actions and attitudes.

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There have been times that I’ve been on the losing end of all the examples listed above. In many cases I simply hadn’t put in the work to develop my Social and Emotional Intelligence (SEI) to the level it needed to be.  In other cases I was simply ignorant.

So what’s the secret to gaining a competitive edge with your emotional fitness?  Shifting your model and perspective on what your emotions mean to you.

When emotions are viewed as “positive” or “negative”, we often do whatever’s necessary in order to experience pleasure and avoid pain.  And what seems to be a good decision in the moment to escape the pain may not turn out so well later on.

So what’s the alternative model? It’s this: view emotions as pleasant or unpleasant information signals to be acted upon.

Take disappointment and frustration for example, the two emotional states I’m challenged by the most. When I viewed them as positive or negative as I had in the past,  I hated the way they felt and would usually do whatever I needed to do to get rid of them.  The results? Sometimes it worked, and sometimes things got worse.34783881 - detail of a shift lever

Now, viewing them as unpleasant bits of information, I’ve been able to actually learn something and take informed action:

  • Disappointment- it let’s me know I’m not getting the result I expect and I need to revisit my expectations and make sure they align with the reality I’m dealing with.
  • Frustration- it let’s me know what I’m doing isn’t working and I need to change my approach in order to achieve what I want.

The other advantage of this model  or “secret” is the freedom to fully experience my emotions regardless of their nature and know that once I act they’ll soon pass.

The ability to shift assumes a basic level of emotional fitness and being able to name the emotion you’re experiencing in the moment.  If you can’t or that’s a new concept, that may be  where you may need to start. If you can, then look for and welcome opportunities to practice regularly and often.

What emotions sabotage you the most and how would shifting your perspective give you a competitive advantage?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to know.


6 Critical Abilities To Grow Your Integrity And Results

How to be a “Good Guy” AND Win!

When you take an integrated view of character you end up with Integrity.  And integrity goes beyond the moral and ethical dimension. Living a fully integrated life….a life of integrity…. allows us to hit on all cylinders in business and in life.

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I’ve observed some people who are enjoyable to be around and are as upright as they come. Unfortunately, some of these same people have a repeated pattern of failure in their results, both with people and tasks. Who do you know that is like that? Now, they’re “good guys” in the truest sense of the word. The problem is that when it comes to getting stuff done, these “good guys” sometimes make things a lot worse! They’re great to talk to and be around, you just don’t want them on your team. I bet you’ve experienced some of these people too.

So why is it that “good guys” sometimes seem to lose and cause your team to fumble? Why is that some….leaders in particular…. get to a certain level and then flatline or fail?

While there can be many reasons, Dr. Cloud has observed that often they are lacking one or more of the following 6 abilities critical to integrity:

  1. The ability to connect authentically.
  2. The ability to be oriented toward truth.42611843 - close-up of person looking at diamond with magnifying loupe
  3. The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well.
  4. The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative.
  5. The ability to be oriented toward growth (i.e. a “Growth Mindset”).
  6. The ability to be transcendent (i.e. see the bigger picture).

As he says, “ethical functioning is a part of character, but not all of it. And is certainly not all of what affects whether someone is successful or becomes a good leader.” If you want healthy “wake” of results, you’ve got to be a person of integrity. This is especially the case for leaders and leaders of leaders.

All of us need to be working on the most important asset we have all the time: ourselves.  While we can’t focus on everything at the same time all the time, we can focus on something all the time at any given time.

And as you work on the 6 areas above, you’ll find out something interesting and profitable as well: they’re all integrated and have a synergistic effect. The dividends you reap as a whole by intentionally working on any given one will be much larger than that yielded from any single one. You can then win in the truest sense of the word.

As you look at your wake of results, which of the 6 critical abilities, if you had more of it, would help you grow in your integrity and get more true wins? What’s the next most courageous step you could take to start that process now?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to know.

3 Dimensions Of Your Integrity And How It Impacts Your Results

A diamond is valuable, both for it’s hardness and beauty. The other reality is that a diamond will appear vastly differently depending on how you look at it and what you use it for; in other words, it’s multidimensional. Integrity is a lot like that as well. I had no idea how much so until reading Integrity: The Courage To Meet The Demands Of Reality by  Dr. Henry Cloud.

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If you think integrity consists only of a moral dimension, you couldn’t be more mistaken…..I know I was.

Any mention of integrity usually evokes the concept of character as well. I like the way Dr. Cloud defines character as “…the ability to meet the demands of reality.”  And just as metal will fail if the strength and design of it’s character aren’t adequate to meet imposed demands, so it is with your life; failure will occur when it collides with the imposed demands of life. You can count on it.

And while integrity encompasses character, there is more. In fact, integrity represents the following 3 general dimensions of character:

  1. Meeting moral and ethical standards and the ability to build trust
  2. Developing and executing skills and talents within context
  3. Seeing reality for what it is: the bad with the good, the granular and the big picture

As you can see, integrity goes way beyond what we typically think of as character and encompasses much more.  Integrity means to be whole and undivided, unified or sound in construction, and internally consistent. In short, integrity is simply integrated character.

 When we think of integrity in this more encompassing sense to include our talents, strengths and skills, it’s really about a person who has brought all these together in a way that allows him or her to execute at the highest level.  It encompasses both who they are AND what they get done – their results.

When a person is living an integrated life….a life of integrity…. they are able to “deliver the goods” while hitting on all cylinders.  In fact, when looked at this way the moral dimension is simply the ante to get into the game. The real question then becomes “can you play and deliver results?”

We all know that the demands imposed by the reality of life are many and varied.  So what happens to our results when we’re lacking integrity in selected areas of our lives? The following three things can occur, singly or in any combination:

  • We hit a performance ceiling that is way lower than our ability.
  • We get off track and get derailed by something or someone.
  • We reach success and find ourselves self-destructing instead of celebrating.11201828 - boat wake prop wash on blue ocean sea in sunny day

So how can we recognize when our integrity is lacking?  The two most telling are found in the wake we leave behind us. Just as a boat leaves a wake so do we. And the twin sides of our wake are our results and our relationships. While we intuitively understand how a lack of integrity can tank a relationship, it’s not always as clear when it comes to results.

Take a look at your wake. Are you getting the results you want for yourself and your team, both in your tasks and relationships? If not, how would a more integrated view of character….integrity….give you greater awareness and clarity?

Please leave a comment, I’d love to know.

Why We Lose Our Influence With Those That Matter Most

And How To Get It Back Again!

Why is it that we often fall so short in our influence with the colleagues, friends and family that matter the most to us?  Because we assume we know what they want and need even though we don’t 99.9% of the time.

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I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve started down a path with someone only to find out I’m on the wrong road. To make matters even worse, my approach has caused them to be actively disengaged as well. Been there?

So why do we keep doing it?  Probably for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being our familiarity with those closest us.  And because they are familiar to us, we fail or forget the importance and need to build rapport with them.

Leadership is influence, plain and simple. And you can’t influence someone effectively if you haven’t built rapport.  Building rapport is a dynamic, ongoing process. The problem is that we treat it like it’s a “one and done” event. That leads us to assume we have rapport with others, especially wth those that matter most, when we don’t. That includes key members of the team(s) we lead. 

So what’s the key to building rapport so you can lead from the heart and maximize your influence? It’s this: remember to ask more than tell.

And while asking is simple, it isn’t easy. Why? Because asking runs counter to our nature; we simply like to tell people what we know and what to do. If you doubt that, just hangout with a kindergartner for a about 5 minutes (either a chronological kindergartner or a functional one, makes no difference).

What is it we are asking them about? Here are some essentials:203 AskvsTell I

  • What do you really want in this situation:
    • for you?
    • for our relationship?
    • for our family, team or organization?
  • What do you need in order to make it happen?
  • What’s do you think the next best step is?

What makes asking vs telling so effective? Relationally, it let’s them know its more about them than it is about you. Practically, it allows the other person to:

  • Discover, clarify and align with what he or she wants to achieve
  • Gain self-awareness
  • Elicit solutions and strategies they own

I think Blaise Pascal said it well:  “People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”  And building rapport through asking may be the best way to help start and guide them in the discovery process. 

So how have you build rapport lately with those that matter most to you? With who do you want more?  It may be that all you have to do is start asking.

How you build rapport with those that matter most?  Please leave a comment, I’d love to learn.