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.

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.

“Lift”…What It Is, What It Does and Why You Need It! (part 2)

026 ShuttleIn Lift part I, I said that we get lift and minimize drag in our life by choosing our relationships wisely and intentionally. Who are
the top five people you spend the most time with (virtually or otherwise)?
It is highly likely that you reflect the attitudes, values, perspectives, behaviors and even mannerisms of these 5 people. Given the influence of the “Top 5” in our lives, we had better be intentional and make it count.

However, if we were limited to only “live” influences, we might quickly stall or be stifled. After all, everyone’s time, resources and accessibility are finite and limited. In addition, those in our current circle of influence may not have what we need or we may need more than they can give. And sometimes, we may just be in one of those seasons when key relationships and influences are limited or non-existent.

I’ve had “dry seasons” when key people just weren’t there for me to learn and grow from….I bet you have too. One dry season I distinctly remember is when I was 10yrs old and living in Taiwan. Few spoke English, we lived on a housing compound, and if you could catch a TV signal only Mandarin was spoken. And there was not such thing as a PC/Mac, iPod or the internet. Now at 51yrs of age I still vividly look back that 2yr stretch and remember it as one of the most rapid and fulfilling growth periods in my life. The SRA reading lab cards, library books (I quickly found myself immersed in Homers Odyssey and other classic literature), along with getting outside my compound walking around observing resulted in a wealth of knowledge and learning that I have always considered transformative. A decade later in a similar dry season I leveraged radio programing along with books and self-study modules to get the Lift I needed.

How about you? Are you getting the lift you need to become who you want to be and get where you want to go? You don’t have to settle and let Drag keep you down, even if you find yourself in a dry season or don’t have a “Top 5” circle of influence right now. It’s almost never about a lack of Lift opportunities or resources. Instead, its about awareness, initiative and being intentional about your growth. What are some solutions? The following 4 categories activities can be excellent sources of Lift in your life and these days just about everyone can access at least one or more:

  • Virtual (blogs, podcasts and books)
  • Group (conferences, membership sites)
  • Peer (group coaching, Mastermind groups, or formal and informal conversations)
  • Personal (individual coaching, professional and personal friendships, volunteer activities or paid engagements and mentoring)

Although I classify the above activities as “Lift” because I think it fits better, Michael Hyatt classifies these as “mentoring” (mentoring doesn’t exactly fit, but you get the idea). He does an excellent job of describing these categories more in-depth as well as giving examples of associated specific activities. As usual, Michael goes further and even shares 5 ways to find a mentor.

Which brings me to my next point: How can you and I make the most of these types of resources and do so without being overwhelmed and instead experiencing Drag? After all, we live in the age of information overload and information per se isn’t the real value like it once was. The real value is obtaining relevant, highly selective and often curated information that meets our specific needs and interests; that’s the Juice, that’s the value.

026 Shuttle II

To get it, you have to know:

1. Where to start
2. How to get it
3. How to store it for easy access and retrieval
4. A system for consuming it
5. A seed of discipline that can be grown into a habit for steps 1 – 4 above.

I look forward to discussing each of the five steps above in the next few posts so stay tuned!


“Lift”…What It Is, What It Does and Why You Need It! (part 1)

When I was a young boy growing up, we moved all over the world. My dad was in the Air Force and stationed overseas in Taiwan and Norway for several tours, which meant a LOT of air travel . The most vivid memory I have of those times of extended travel…besides how JP4 (jet fuel) smells…is watching the large airliners gathering speed down the runway and then miraculously lifting into the air, going higher and higher until out of sight. It always amazed me and frankly, still does. How can something so big and heavy go so fast and so high so quickly? It seemed like magic back then, but as I later learned, it was due to the principle of “Lift”.

025 Plane

The aeronautical principle of Lift is observed when a fluid or air flowing past the surface of a body (ie. the wing of an aircraft) creates a force, or resistance. Air passes over the wing and exerts a perpendicular as well as parallel force. With proper shape, the former creates a Lift force which raises the plane in the air, and the latter a Drag force which can keep it grounded. How much lift is created depends both on the shape of the wing as well as the speed of the air passing over it. Same oncoming force, dramatically different effect depending on the shape of the wing.

025 Wing

As a young man, I would often look at successful people (in the truest sense the word) and be amazed. How could anyone attain such incredible heights of stature and personal and/or professional accomplishment? Some having done it in a very short period of time no less. I knew I wanted to grow and succeed, but at the time didn’t even know how to go about it. Over the years I’ve learned from my own experience as well as that of others is that to grow exponentially, you have to leverage “Lift”, although a different type.

In Life, the principle of “Lift” (or lack thereof) occurs as we constantly encounter forces and resistance in our day to day. We can’t always determine the type of force and resistance we encounter, but we CAN choose how we respond and adapt to it. Our response affects who we are and how we are shaped going forward, which in turn provides more (or less) lift. Fortunately, we do have the opportunity to selectively choose some of the forces we are exposed to so that we can intentionally shape ourselves into who we want to become: These forces are primarily the people and other influences we allow into our lives.

If we are selective with the people and influences we allow to pass over and impact us, we can experience Lift that takes us higher, farther and faster….much like wind passing over a wing; we gather airspeed and optimally shape ourselves to get maximum Lift in our lives and businesses. So much so that it can seem incomprehensible to others, much like it did to me so many years ago and often still does.

How do we get Lift and minimize drag in our life? By choosing our relationships wisely and intentionally. It has been said that at any given time the average of the top five people we spend the most time with (virtually or otherwise).

025 Lift Mentor

Who are these people in your life? have you intentionally chosen them to fill that role, and are they helping provide the Lift in your life so you can become who you want to be and get where you want to go? If so, make sure you provide them with Lift as well. If not, what needs to change?

Helping Conversation “Hats”: Summary

In this brief segment, we are going to wrap things up with our Helping Conversations series.   In summary, Helping conversations center around 4  fundamental activities: Teaching, Mentoring. Consulting, and Coaching. Each conversation type is used for a different purpose and differs in its level of sophistication and the skill-set needed to carry it out.

Regardless of what we do,  Leaders and those in positions of influence need to know the difference between each of these types of helping conversations and how to use them if they want to have maximum effectiveness and impact on the individuals and organizations they lead.

Hopefully, this series has facilitated greater awareness, increased your ability to distinguish between Teaching, Mentoring, Consulting and Coaching conversations, and will help you to be able to identify which conversation is needed with which person, and at what time in order to empower positive change.

I would love to hear your thoughts, additional insights, and the impact you have had on others as well as your comments and feedback.



Helping Conversation “Hats”: Mentoring Hat

Mentoring is defined here and is similar to Teaching, but with one critical difference: you’re providing advice and opinion based upon knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained through your personal or professional experience.

In a sense, wearing your Mentoring Hat is more personal than teaching because your sharing a part of you. Do you know best how? If not, join me for a few minutes as I discuss some of these critical elements in this brief overview.

I would love to hear your thoughts, additional insights, and the impact you have had on others as well as your comments and feedback.



Helping Conversation “Hats”: An Introduction

Helping conversations allow you to engage in 4 fundamental activities: Teaching, Mentoring, Consulting and Coaching. Regardless of what you do, if you are in a leadership position or position of influence then knowing which “Hat”  to wear, for What purpose, When and with Who can be crucial for your success and ability to make maximum impact.

This video post will introduce the topic and over the next several posts I am going to define each type of “Hat” as well as discuss the related three “Ws” above.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, your impact on others as well as your comments and feedback.


Settled…..Where Have You?

In what area(s) of your life have you “settled”? “Settled” means you have come to accept the status quo, regardless of whether or not something is the way it should be.

If your answer after reading that question is that you have no settled areas , I challenge you to take a closer look. The truth

is that “Settled” is like coronary artery disease (CAD), a silent killer of which we aren’t aware until the damage is done. That damage occurs not only to our responsibilities but our ambitions, aspirations, and dreams as well. The other truth is that

most of us have Settled in some way in at least one important area of our lives.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can test ourselves for Settled by not just asking the question of whether we are, but by then intentionally taking time (15min minimum) to reflect on our values, relationships, and vision for our lives and then asking the following key questions (in order):

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  • “What are mine?”
  • “Which are most important to me?”
  • “Am I acting intentionally toward them?”
  • “Do my behaviors reflect their importance”
  • “Does my time reflect their importance?”

This process is both curative and preventative. I know from recent painful experience.

I was self-diagnosed with “Settled” this year when making out my 2014 goals as part of Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days To Your Best Year Ever course. Although I was anticipating getting clarity and action around my goals, Michael started off by presenting me with an unwelcome question instead. “In what area or areas of your life have you settled?” I took the bait. Although my mind was focused on the professional, intentionally thinking about that question arrested me and quickly surfaced the personal: my 13yr old daughter Jordan. Not what I expected nor what I wanted to deal with.

Jordan is challenged with Down’s and Autism, which has resulted in her not being able to verbally communicate as well as being incontinent. After years (literally) of daily (literally) work, exhausting all we knew and could find, yet experiencing repeated failure in these two behavioral areas, I had simply quite trying. Not intentionally mind you. I still went through the motions at times. But more often than not, I was disengaged and just went with the flow (literally and figuratively :)). I had embraced status quo and was managing as best I could…which was OK. After all, Settled is easy and can become quite comfortable.
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However, diagnosing myself as Settled and asking myself the key questions quickly made me aware that I was not only violating one of my core values, but neglecting a responsibility and losing an opportunity…for myself, my family and for Jordan. This then allowed me to re-group, re-equip, re-energize, and re-engage. I was then able to take a “next step” in this area of my life that had become so settled and stale that I was ashamed to admit it. Thank God for awareness, because that is the beginning to being able to take the first next step. The results of that first next step (and those since) have been equally unexpected: for the first time in Jordan’s life and in all the years we have tried, we have finally have begun to experience repeated and ongoing success in one area of her toileting that now appears will be sustainable. Who would have ever thought?! That sure wasn’t what I expected. We still have a long way to go, but regardless of the results and what the future holds, I know I that my values and actions are properly aligned and we are intentionally working toward our dream for Jordan and us in this area of our lives.

Don’t confuse Settled with accomplishment or contentment because it is neither. Settled isn’t good. Settled is often the silent impostor that robs us by exchanging “good enough” or passive acceptance for what’s best…and then makes us oblivious to the loss or worse yet makes us feel good about it! Instead, be intentional about the important areas of your life and what you want them to be. What they are meant to be. What YOU are meant to be.

Sometimes it starts with a simple question: In what area(s) of your life have you “settled”?