Doing something new and uncomfortable can be frustrating. So can running out of TP in a public restroom. Both situations create panic, fear and anxiety, but I promise I will not go into anymore detail about restrooms with you.
Recently I had the opportunity to lead a 1 day mentoring program session. This involved matching up some of the brightest individuals in a company with senior leaders. Together, these senior leaders (General Managers/former VPs/Directors, etc) had enough wisdom to teach Yoda a thing or two. I had to design the meeting so that each agenda topic created meaningful conversations amongst the participants. Months leading into the session, I did not have a clue on how to design the day, but in the end I pulled it off and people were successfully matched. On the drive home that night I found myself pondering how I was able to do it.
For starters, I had never been a part of a formal mentoring program or formally mentored anyone. However, I have been mentored over the years through various family members (the list goes on), friends, bosses, or co-workers. I have learned that I need to rely on others when I need to learn a new skill.
The first time I figured this out was in the fourth grade when I had to learn my times tables. I found the smartest person in the class who happened to be a girl named Christa. Christa showed me all the tricks on multiplying. She saved me time and energy. Result: I learned how to multiply.
A few months ago I ventured into the social media world. I don’t plan on applying for Charlie Sheen’s social media intern position, but I know that I need to learn more about web 2.0. For starters, I knew that I needed a kick @#@ blog that could keep up with the pros. I knew this because I have blogged for the last four years and blog viewers actually judge a blog by its cover. I realized that I needed to find someone that knew what the they were doing. It needed to be someone that knew me and my crazy ways.
Enter Al Ogles. Al is one of my long time best friends. I consider him an IT guru and geek when it comes to web design. I never looked at him as a mentor until recently. He has spent many hours the last few months answering my rookie IT questions. Way to go Al. Coffee on me next time.
I used this same approach when I designed the mentor program described above. I was clueless and felt uncomfortable about how I was going to do it. So what did I do? I resorted back to my lesson learned from the fourth grade. That is, find someone that knows more about a topic than you and find out how they do it. That is what I did and it worked again.
My point is that mentors are everywhere. Jack Welch, former CEO of GE had a view on this too. Know what you want to learn and go find people who know about that subject. Do not limit yourself by only thinking that you learn from “smarter people” or people with big job titles or fame. You can learn something from everybody. Just get out of your own way. Be humble and eager to learn more.