Some of the best stuff we do for our colleagues and customers isn’t necessarily the stuff we get compensated for. It involves mentoring and being mentored. We gain far more from some of our best work than mere compensation could deliver. Yes, it’s the end of the second quarter. Businesses are in the midst of quota mea culpa, evaluating quarterly goals met or not. For the most part, reflection of the past focuses far too much on what we (or our employers) perceive as our failures rather than on our successes.
Ask yourself what you have accomplished this quarter, for others with whom you work: your colleagues, your clients, yourself (perhaps your toughest and most critical “colleague”). Have any of these activities involved mentoring? Now ask yourself this question again. I’m quite certain your first responses were all about what you failed to do, fell short of accomplishing, shoulda-coulda done.
How has your involvement with people and projects and initiatives moved outcomes forward, positively? Where does mentoring fit into your professional arsenal?
Some of my biggest achievements this quarter involved watching two of my MBA students earn their first jobs and internships after graduation. These were not entry level jobs at all. They were positions with fantastic companies where I have absolutely no doubt they will make a huge impact. In working with me, as part of my mentoring activities, these students watched and listened to how I facilitated some of the most difficult of business and personnel issues for the projects we worked on during class. They learned a lot more than a book could ever teach them. These grad students realized full-tilt that business, and entrepreneurship, most certainly are not academic exercises.
Business development and entrepreneurship, when perceived “live and in person,” do not offer straight line, prescriptive outcomes either. It gets messy and convoluted. It involves mentoring folks. Hence the beauty – and challenge – of doing business.
What’s most exciting is that I will be watching these individuals as they learn from their experiences. They will soak in what eventually will define who they become in the business world. These two young men did the heavy lifting themselves to earn their current positions. They were coachable and receptive to some tough-love conversations we had as they started to focus on their respective job searches. There were more than a few in-your-face, moment-of-truth, “aha!” moments. You make a lot of hard calls when you engage in mentoring.
Why? We trusted each other. We had confidence in each other. They knew I had confidence in them. We were passionate in our creative business conversations. We talked about possibilities, intangibles. They knew I had their back. They were willing to fail in order to succeed.
You have accomplished something like this, during this past quarter as well. In fact, if you sit down, have a cup of coffee early some morning, and relax and reflect, you are going to realize how many of those moments you create for others throughout your career. These are your core personal values as well as your core capabilities. It is what you bring to the business table time after time.
What are your core personal values? How do you engage them in mentoring activities?
We get caught up in tying self-worth to our/someone’s bottom line. There’s no dollar sign that can be assigned to some of the greatest stuff we do – which we or “they” tend to dismiss as altruism. Mentoring does not mean that some of our “best” stuff is anything less than some of the richest learning we do.
Truth be told, I learn from my colleagues, clients and students. I am a life-long learner, and I learn from them far more than they feel they receive from me. No matter how many times I am presented with the “same” scenario, it’s always different. It’s always a different time, different context, different personality, different business. To me, everything is fresh and nascent for discovery and mentoring. It works both ways.
Cut yourself some slack as we move into the third quarter, together. You have been doing some of your best work yet. Except you may not have realized it.
Your thoughts on your own “best stuff” from this past quarter? Who are your mentors?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo to small and mid-sized businesses in the manufacturing and service sectors. She builds vibrant revenue-producing business strategies for technical startups.