As I wrote in my October article, “Finding Guidance to Bring Out Your Best,” one of the best things we can do to set ourselves up for success in all areas of life is to find people who not only show us how to perform both general and specific life skills, but who also hold us accountable for our actions, behaviors and efforts. It’s the bedrock belief that The Theory of 5 is built on.
To make the most of this opportunity, we have to make sure we’re ready to receive this kind of intense support. When we find teachers, we must prepare ourselves to be good students.
Seeking guidance can be a humbling experience. When we ask for support in this way, we are admitting our knowledge and skills are inferior to theirs. They have the skills, habits and attitudes we would like to learn. We’re acknowledging that, at least in one particular area, they are our superior. For those of us who are driven by success and are leaders with
Type “A” personalities, this process can be difficult.
We need to get over it.
Entering into a mentoring relationship will be challenging to our egos. When we ask for guidance from a successful, motivated individual, our feelings may often get bruised. They will tell us what we’re doing wrong, and we might be surprised by how wrong. There will be times when we want to rebel, to assert that we already know what we’re doing. Our defenses may go up to protect our egos, and we might question whether we even need a mentor.
Most of us are familiar with the statement, “Pride cometh before the fall,” and no truer words have ever been written. The word “ignorance” has a lot of negative connotations to it; for many, it’s become a synonym for “stupid.” The truth, however, is that we’re all ignorant about many things. There’s no shame in accepting that; no one knows everything, and only fools believe they do.
What is a shame is when someone is too proud to admit that they don’t know everything, especially about an area in which they want to grow. When we’re too proud to ask for training, advice or education, we become victims of our own ignorance.
Our pride becomes our undoing. Our egos become our enemies.
We need our mentors.
A motivated mentor or co-mentor will care more about our future than our feelings and more about us accomplishing our goals than he or she does about protecting our egos. We must be prepared for this. They aren’t being mean or cruel. They are issuing a challenge. A person only gets to the top of his or her field by being open minded and listening to people with a proven track record. A bruised ego will heal; hard-won lessons will be remembered.
Honesty with Your Mentor; Honesty with Yourself
Be honest with yourself and with your mentors when entering this kind of relationship. Many of us tend to present the best version of ourselves to the world no matter the circumstances — even if we have to embellish here and there to make it happen. That’s just human nature.
Some of us may go the opposite way and actually downplay our skills and accomplishments. We don’t want to appear too prideful and, if we’re being honest, there’s a part of us that doesn’t want extra responsibility if those who are leading us know we’re capable of more. There’s a reason it’s called a “comfort” zone.
Both of these tendencies need to be set aside, along with our aforementioned ego, to get the most out of a mentoring relationship.
While we should show up with a positive attitude, we want them to know the real us — shortcomings and all. If we were already perfect, we wouldn’t need support and guidance. We shouldn’t waste their time pretending to have a perfect life, but instead let them know where we most crave guidance.
Imagine going to the doctor with a sprained ankle. The doctor comes into the examination room and asks how you’re doing. Would you answer,
“Never better,” and put on a brave face, or would you tell the doctor where you were injured and let them go to work? Do you want the doctor to think you’re the picture of health for the sake of your ego, or would you want the medical attention you came in to receive?
That may sound ridiculous, but it’s the exact same thing as asking for a person’s guidance and then not being honest about where you need support and being closed off to their suggestions.
Mentors will get their reward when they see the person they are guiding grow and become more than they ever could have imagined. This is only possible, however, if you are willing to change and take their advice to heart. If you’re not able to do this, you are not only wasting your time, but worse, you are wasting theirs.
Let’s set our ego aside and be ready to step into a larger world.
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