"Never in the history of mankind has any situation improved on its own while people sat there doing nothing."
Whether you call it Mentoring or Coaching, the attributes and actions of superior ones are the same. Superior mentors know how adults learn and recognize that they are facilitators of learning and catalysts in the process of discovery and insight. Superior mentors use crystal clear communication, exhibit never ending compassion and are sincere in their joy in the role of being a helper. Superior mentors share wisdom that’s immediately actionable and they respect the person by listening and offering suggestions without judging.
Tuesday Morning Coaching: Eight Simple Truths to Boost Your Career and Your Life, by David Cottrell, helps us learn about superior mentors by watching the interaction of Jeff (mentor) and Ryan (mentee). Ryan is frustrated, overwhelmed, beaten down by life and it had been a long time since he experienced success. He had success earlier in his career and as so often happens, he’d traveled down the road a bit and was off track (the purpose of coaching on Tuesday was to symbolize this). He remembers a former boss, Jeff, who he felt was extremely successful and contacts him to help.
The book was valuable on many levels. It gave me ideas on how to coach, how to be coached, as well as offered eight simple truths that lead to success, examples of companies that put those truths into practice and steps on how they did it.
The Big Idea
8 Simple Truths
"I was willing to do whatever was necessary to get myself out of my slump…"
The solutions to most challenging problems may be the 8 Simple Truths about success Cottrell lists in the book BUT they are sooooo not easy to implement. As Ryan, the character in the narrative was introduced to each he didn’t agree with every one of them immediately. But, he did them anyway – his commitment to the mentoring process was that strong – and to excellent result.
#1 No Matter What – Mastering an attitude of doing something No Matter What forces you to explore alternatives most people wouldn’t even notice.
#2 And Then Some – You’ll discover that going the extra mile isn’t that much harder than just doing what’s required. But most people spend their lives looking for ways to get by with doing less (there’s never a crowd on the “extra mile”).
#3 Consider It Done – Saying these words when someone asks you to do something conveys confidence, commitment, accountability and an attitude of moving forward.
#4 Above All Else – Understand what your values are and adhere to them No Matter What.
#5 From Now On – Not just welcoming/embracing change but actually changing when things are going well and keep changing. You can only improve if you are making positive changes.
#6 See It, Feel It, Trust It, Do It – Successful people have goals (instead of just hoping luck will get them to a place they’re happy with). This method of setting goals is the one I’ve always used and passed on to others and now must get back to: make a plan to achieve the goal, visualize success/the goal achieved, feel the achieved goal happening or write it down, trust that it will by telling others and then actually achieve it.
#7 Focus Inside Your Boat – Focus on the things you can control and then give laser-like attention to your priorities. Stop procrastinating as it causes distraction from your priorities.
#8 Knowledge Is Power – When you are so knowledgeable about something your instincts take over making it easier to consistently perform.
Every book I’ve read this year tells me that not doing the things above is what’s holding me back from achieving the changes I so want to make. I know all these things. I help other people learn them. I know I don’t always apply them to my own life, and reading this book reminded me which ones in particular I have not been applying (goal setting, making good on my commitments, focus).
Problems, Failures & Preparation
"Many times you learn best when you’re in the middle of a storm."
This is not the first time I’ve been told (and I do actually believe this) that “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but still, wouldn’t it be nice if I could learn and retain in less stormy seas? Maybe you can, but I rarely do. A few tidbits from the book that resonated with me:
Don’t leave, abandon or bail out of a problem. If you do you’re likely to find that problem in the next place you go or in the next situation. Just solve it now so you can move on to the opportunities that the solving process opens up.
You may not enjoy failure (does anyone?) but failure provides you with great learning moments as it teaches humility, perseverance and courage–if you allow it.
How we prepare counts. Train everyday to prepare for virtually any kind of situation by understanding the fundamentals and the behavior of what you do (if you’re a firefighter understand the properties of fire, if you’re a trainer understand how the human brain works).
Saying no to yourself is a daily winning habit (say no to do something fun or easy that has nothing to do with your goal; say no to eating something that will make you feel bad; say no to spending time with non-positive, non-committed, non-successful people).
You will become like the five people you spend most of your time with. If you want to attract positive people – act positive. If you want to attract committed people – act committed; successful people – act successful.
Pass It On
"…keep sowing and allow others to reap."
In the first coaching session the mentor said that he’d only agree to mentor if Ryan, the mentee, agreed to mentor others. In fact, each week the mentor sent Ryan to a specific person to learn what led to their success. Each of those people were passing it on. Makes me think of the lyrics: “It only takes a spark to get a fire going. But then all those around will warm up in it’s glowing”. The more people you learn from, the more those people will be inspired to pass it on and the more you’ll want to pass it on, too. Sowing is infectious! This one is an easy concept for me as I love mentoring. I love mentoring partly because I love to see people implementing ideas and growing, and partly because I learn so much from repeating my beliefs and hearing what happens when they use them.
I believe there are actually 9 Simple Truths of Success, #9 being that success is measured by the lives you positively affect. Who has time for this? My plan from now on is to ask people, just in the daily course of meeting with them, what led to their success. And plan number two is to read one book a month. The author quotes an interesting statistic – reading just one book per month puts you in the top 1% of all nonfiction readers in the world. The more you know the more you can pass on.
I read this book looking for how to’s on being a mentor. Though I got fewer concrete ideas than I had expected, it did reinforce the things I already do and it reminded me just how helpful it is to me to be a mentor. I started this book months ago and never finished it (so much for the principle of Consider It Done). As is always the case for me, I picked it back up just when the lessons in it were needed most.