Got a Mentor?

•August 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Now that you have found your passion (step 1), step 2 in your career plan is to find someone that you look up to in the same field in which you are interested in becoming a subject matter expert.  It is extremely important when you choose your Mentor to remember that these are real people and they can make just as many mistakes as you.  The point here is to emulate their successful behaviors,  not to become a clone.  Be yourself – you need to have your own personality; bring your insights and your thoughts to the table. Do not be your mentors mouthpiece; instead, learn from their positive behaviors in order to do what they do in your own way. 

Often, your mentor will be older than you are since age usually comes with experience.  The pearl of wisdom here is that you need to find someone you can talk to, someone you have a personal connection with;  this doesn’t mean they have to know all the details of your personal life.  

Your mentor needs to be comfortable with providing straightforward, open, honest feedback to you.  Be ready to hear what you can do better, what you are doing well and how you can be more effective. You MUST BE open to the uncomfortable nature of this situation.  If you become defensive when they try to give you feedback, it will shut down your ability to grow and it will stunt the relationship between you and your mentor.  Make no mistake, you are building a relationship with your mentor.  It is your job as the mentee to make these discussions easier for your mentor in order to have honest conversations on your personal growth and in order to move on to step 3 of your career plan.

A leaders learning never ends.

Need a Career Plan?

•July 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a career plan to follow? Have you ever wondered how to start being the leader you want to be? Creative tension, as established last post, is what drives personal growth. Use the resulting discomfort as the impetus to move your career and your personal growth forward.
Where do you start? You start by finding your passion. There is an excellent tool that I recently tried online, its free, and it will help you to “Begin with the end in mind” as Stephen R. Covey suggests in his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. This tool is called life-plan (go to the bottom of her page), and is a series of questions for you to ask yourself. The point is to be open and honest with yourself about what it is you envision for your future – your ideal future.
Sometimes the first step is the hardest, but it will set the tone for the rest of your life – its worth the effort and the often awkward self examination that is required. Once you have completed the excercise, your mind should be spinning about what you are most passionate about.
Go online and find groups or communities on Linkedin, Facebook, etc, that are also interested in the same things you are passionate about. Read blogs about your passion, this should be fun, since you are excited and passionate about this topic – write yourself notes about what you like and dislike while you are reading. Immerse yourself, as often as possible, in the topic you feel most passionate about – give yourself permission to enjoy this – and it will become a larger part of your current life.
Make the first step in your journey one in the right direction.
A leaders learning never ends.


Closing the Gap: The journey from the you of today to the best you of the future

•July 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

I am a definite fan of Dr. Bret Simmons – not only because he is an engaging and inspired teacher, but because he never stops learning.  In his recent blog, he discusses creative tension, an uncomfortable feeling that results from the gap between who you are right now and who you want to be.   It is a widely accepted concept that most people do not leverage this feeling to reach or stretch their potential, but instead prefer to ignore the difference (the gap) in order to feel better about themselves in the here and now.

Unfortunately, ignoring the gap for the short term, “fuzzy feeling” it creates, only prolongs the inevitable.  The natural leader seeks out that uncomfortable space, that creative tension, knowing it will change them, knowing it will challenge them to be a better version of themselves. Growth is uncomfortable and can even be painful sometimes, but you get out what you put into the process.  This willingness to be in uncertain territory and use the experience to increase ones knowledge about oneself, is key to leading others.  If you are not willing to be uncomfortable in order to grow, then you will have zero credibility and experience to draw from when others around you are struggling with their own creative tension. The only way to engage, inspire and motivate your peers and your direct reports is to have walked the path yourself and have the scars to show for it.

A leaders learning never ends.