Mentors are NOT one size fits all.

This something I learned early as an ambitious young leader. I was ALWAYS looking (and still am) for who I could learn from next. This, by the way, is a good trait to have. However, I was never taught that not everyone who happens to know more than me in my field of work, or an area of life that I wanted to grow in, was the right mentor for me. As a result of my ignorance in this I had a few unfortunate coffee dates with potential mentors where we both walked away probably thinking, “Let’s NEVER do that again!” While there were others that I happened upon that was the perfect fit!

“Mentors are NOT one size fits all.”

Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well. I eventually realized that some intentionality should go into selecting the people we’re asking to invest time and knowledge in us. We all need a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor that we can learn from. While we can be informally mentored throughout our lives, formal mentorship takes intentionality.

“Nevertheless, mentorship is a significant part of our growth as leaders and it should be a consistent part as well.”

My foundational filter for selecting a mentor is two-fold. First, I look for someone who is living a principle that I want to learn. Whether it’s for becoming a better husband, a better son, a better employee or another area of life. If they’re living it out that’s my first ✓. The second thing I look for if I am unable to find someone who is already where I want to go is someone who is headed in the same direction but just ahead of me. That’s the second ✓. Then to those two, I add the following three filters.

1 KNOW HOW YOU LEARN BEST

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The first thing we have to ask is, “How do I learn best?” This question is key. How we learn is essentially the container that we’ll use to help us hold on to the knowledge that our mentor passes on. Are you a hands-on learner? Are you visual? Are you an auditory learner? Knowing the answer to this question will help us walk away from that mentorship with the most growth possible. It will help you and your mentor determine how to best navigate the teaching, coaching and learning experience.

Tip: An easy indicator of whether or not you know the answer is to think about how often you’ve wondered to yourself about why you learn really well sometimes but not all the time. If you think about that a lot, chances are you don’t yet know how you best learn and need to spend time figuring that out.

2 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO LEARN

A common mistake people often make when entering into mentorship is thinking that they’re going to somehow learn everything from the mentor. This is unrealistic. The mentor will not be able to do that nor will we be able to learn it all. especially in short-term mentoring relationships. I learned that identifying a specific an item that I’d like to walk away with is far more successful.

For example, if you’re a Christian and you admire the spiritual walk of a more mature believer. Instead of trying to learn how to be as spiritual as they are. Try narrowing your focus to learning how to find consistency in your walk with God.

Here’s another example, if you’re new on the job with lots to learn, take few minutes to identify the area you feel the most pressure to deliver on. Identify a core item you can learn and use to improve that specific area on the job. After you’ve done this filtering, then go find a mentor to guide your learning that ONE thing. If you learn other things great!

3 KNOW THE TIME YOU NEED

This third and final filter will likely be one of the most practical tools for both you and your mentor DURING your mentorship. Before we identify a mentor to help us learn, we need to get a clear idea of just how long it may take you to learn it. A couple of hours? Days? Maybe months? My point is that Formal Mentorship should never have an indefinite timeline. That can turn into a dreadful thing for both parties. Whenever we’re entering into a mentoring relationship we should always establish a clear timeline.

If you’re both able to commit to an hour meeting once a month and you know you’ll need at least 3 hours to fully learn the idea or topic well, ask for four meetings. The fourth will reduce the pressure on the first three and allow room for flexibility.

THE POCKET POTENTIAL

Since mentorship is such an integral part of continuing to develop as a leader, we should have a tool or filter for how to successfully choose a mentor for ourselves. The following three are my filters.

  1. Know how you learn best
  2. Know what you want to learn
  3. Know the time you need

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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When it comes to self-leadership, people get frustrated with themselves very easily, and rightfully so. It’s REALLY hard sometimes! It also doesn’t help that people who seem to do it well, do a poor job at helping the rest of us grow in it. They often give us the practices they use to maintain healthy self-leadership but not how they got to dig deep roots in the very importance of it.

Today, I’m going to give you the secret sauce and the King of the Jungle is going to help.

The King of the Jungle.

The Lion is championed as the King of the Jungle, and rightly so. Lions are fierce, powerful and yet still beautiful creatures. The first and foremost reason lions get this title is the mane that male lions develop as they mature. It’s recognized as their crown. The second is that they remain at the top of the food chain because they are willing to take on prey much bigger than they are.

This characteristic of being willing to take on prey sometimes more than 6 times their size has caused people to think of them as fearless or courageous animals. I think the truth is that they’re just stubborn. They see a meal that they are determined to have and are unwilling to let it slip from their grasp without a fight.

“Stubbornness is the secret sauce of self-leadership.”

Great Leaders Are Stubborn

Great leaders are stubborn about the right things. Sure, sometimes there’s a bit of selflessness and courage, but beneath it all is stubbornness. They are doggedly focused on a preferred future that they’re willing to sacrifice even their life for. The appearance of selflessness or courage is the result of the clarity and confidence that comes with such a sharp focus.

“This kind of stubbornness exposes how serving others without expecting much in return is freedom from disappointment and motivation to work smarter.”

Clarity puts things in the right perspective and focus helps you ignore the things that would be a waste of your time. When you’re stubborn about a preferred future, then clarity and focus will motivate clear decisions and surface needed sacrifices. This kind of stubbornness exposes how serving others without expecting much in return, for example, is freedom from disappointment and motivation to work smarter. It creates inside of the leader a concrete hope in the future they’re aiming to create and an unwillingness to give up on it without a fight.

Great leaders like Nelson Mandela, President Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are some of the greatest examples of this on a larger scale. Each one was stubborn about a united future for their country. Their decisions were difficult but clear. Their sacrifices were undesirable but I’m certain they saw them as necessary. They were stubborn about a future they simply could not give up on.

“Great leaders are stubborn about the right things.”

The Pocket Potential

The secret sauce of self-leadership is stubbornness. Identify the preferred future you can be stubborn about. It may be a personal fitness goal, a target for your next quarter at work, the restoration of a relationship or success of your business. It’s the future you’re willing to fight for and that you’re dying to create. A future you’d be willing to sacrifice for. When you’ve identified this future, be stubborn about seeing it come to life.

In the next 6 months, where do you hope to be in life professionally, relationally or physically?

  1. Write down a 1 to 2 sentence statement that clearly articulates your goal.
    • Example: 6 Months from now I want to have more energy throughout the day and not feel sluggish. I don’t need to be “buff” but I want to be fit in a healthy way.
  2. Below that statement, write down what you think it would look like if you were stubborn about getting there.
    • Example: I need to be stubborn about getting more sleep at night so I can wake up earlier. Also, I want to work out at least twice a week.
  3. Finally, identify and share your goal with someone you can trust to encourage you to remain stubborn about it until you get there.
    • My accountability would probably be my wife, but a close friend, coworker, or family member is also encouraged.

What will you be stubborn about?

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, be sure to share it with a friend and follow this blog by signing up with your email. Also, if you have other ideas about great practices of self-leadership leave a comment! I’d love to learn from you!

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