Want to Be a Good Example?

John Maxwell has said, “It’s easier to teach what’s right than to do what’s right.” So if we want to be a good example for those around us, we need to be as good as we think we are. Intentions alone do not set the example.

Setting an example also requires being visible, and interacting with people. If you are the best you can be, but working alone, then who are you an example for?

Those two thoughts deserve some reflection time. We would all like to be good, and set a good example. Review your activity in the last week. Have you had opportunities to be visible, and be engaged, and yet you choose actions that isolated you? Have you chosen actions that were easier, and maybe not shown how good you can be?

Colin Powell said, “You can issue all the memos and give all the motivational speeches you want, but if the rest of the people in your organization don’t see you putting forth your very best effort every single day, they won’t either.”  People around you will only give their best if they see you giving your best.

What are you going to do the next week that reflects your best? What are you going to do to make those actions more visible to those around you?

You Can Be a World Class Mentor

Almost 25 years ago, I was assigned an employee to mentor for the very first time. I had no idea how to mentor someone, but proud and excited to be asked. I was also scared. Mentoring is not a skill that was taught in any class I took. I never received training. I was just expected to know how.

I scheduled the first meeting with my new mentee with no agenda. We were just going to meet each other and talk. My plan as a mentor was to share experiences and give advice. That is what a mentor does, right?

After the first meeting I became discouraged. I felt inadequate and worthless. I had no sense of the direction to lead my mentee. I was not sure how I could help this person.

We continued to meet, but the meetings were not productive. I struggled adding future meetings to my calendar because I had more important things to do. Activities in which I provided more value to the company than mentoring. After a few months we just stopped meeting. I had failed with my first mentee.

I am glad that over the next 25 years, I was able to develop world class mentoring skills. It would never have happened if I had not failed first. People that avoid failure, risk never experiencing the event that will positively change their life forever.

For some time, I avoided mentoring, but soon I was assigned another mentee. The second experience was better, but ultimately a failure. In fact, I continued to fail several more times. I learned from my mistakes. I sought out training. I learned more by doing than from books. I had to be willing to face my mistakes, and do the work required to improve.

Being a great mentor is not easy. There is not one single skill that automatically makes a good mentor. Good mentors have a long list of skills including listening, teaching, training, guiding, storytelling, coaching, and most importantly human personalities and motivations.

You can be a world class mentor. It requires life skills that grow through experience, failure, improvement, and practice. What lessons have you learned making you a better mentor? Have you learned more from a book, or by practice? What are you learning now, that will make you a better mentor?