As part of my reading for my Personal MBA, I am documenting the key lessons I learnt from A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring. It is not intended to be a summary or review, rather a reflection of how the book has influenced my thinking on mentoring.
Often the value of the book is determined more by the timing of the message, than the quality of the writing. One day, it is life changing, another, it is passable as interesting or even a chore. I read this book, just as a regular guest blogger referred to me as a mentor, not in those words, she called me a role model. You may call it coaching, role modelling, teaching. There are differences, but also a lot of overlap. The point is that we are all on display and we influence people with our behaviour. This should be enough to drive us to want to be better.
Should you get a mentor?
“There is nothing you know that you haven’t learned from someone else.” – Joshua Wooden, his father.
We tend to grandiose a mentor, but a mentor is simply a positive example which we want to emulate, someone we want learn lessons from. It may be a one on one relationship or a digital mentor.
The best in everything have coaches, mentors and advisors. Often people who were never as good as them, that is not the point. The value is not in finding someone who reached greater heights, rather they are someone you trust and value, that you can learn from. Their advice is just experience you can gain without the pain of learning it.
The Three Main Types of Mentors:
- Personal – effective living
- Professional – career success
- Leadership – sculpt lives
There are more or sub categories, but these buckets broadly cover it. Ideally you would be looking to cultivate all three areas with a mentor, but the reality is that you may get a better return by focusing on one area of a time, gains in one area will impact the others.
Are you a mentor?
You may not realise that you already are one. Recognising that mentors come in many forms, it is important to ensure you are imprinting the right behaviour on people that look to you for an example. You can be a terrible mentor without even knowing it.
Once you have recognised that you are a mentor, remember that when you give advice, it is not about giving your opinion, it is rather a tool to strengthen the listener.
A better question than are you a mentor (you are), is…
Are you a good mentor? – Without principles, you are just guessing
Without principles, guidelines, rules, however you want to anchor it, it is difficult to assess if you are displaying the right behaviour. These rules are not meant to be all encompassing, rather just enough to frame your behaviour.
I am still working on my personal manifesto of my principles, so I have included some that I have come across, which you might find useful.
Joshua Wooden’s seven rules:
- Be true to yourself
- Make each day your masterpiece
- Help others
- Drink deeply from good books
- Make friendship a fine art
- Build a shelter against a rainy day
- Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings everyday.
Don Miguel Ruiz’s four agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
It is also worth checking out Ray Dalio’s Principles.
Some thoughts from the book that I wanted to capture
On coaching –
- Believe in fundamentals – good practice on the basics, leads to good skills, to good players, to good teams, to good results.
- Play with spirit and heart, not emotion.
- If a player scores, the habit should be to immediately share with the assist.
- As a coach you hold you person to a higher standard.
- Somethings are more important than winning.
On corrective measures:
- A moment of gentleness can fix what an hour of shouting fails to achieve.
- Some lessons are learnt subconsciously more than consciously, through imprinted behaviour.
- Give a chance for private correction of behaviour.
- Measured response. Punishment is about getting the lesson through, not getting equal.
On being a mentor
- Honesty with the right attitude leads to trust and respect.
- Trust and consistency are key. There is too little trust in the world, even less backing it up. Bring back – My word is my bond.
- Never expect a reward. The gift given, should be enough of an award.
- Mentoring can happen whenever there is a lesson to be shared.
- The youth haven’t changed, society has. They need stability.
- You’re good as anybody, but no better than anybody.
We are all mentoring, whether we realise it or not. It is important for us to display the right behaviour and these should be anchored in our principles.