People come to me for mentoring when they need help. More often than not, they have gone as far as they can with the skill sets they have, the thought processes they employ, and the experience they have already achieved. Then they feel they've hit a roadblock, and their perceived rate of progress has either slowed, or ceased altogether.
This is where I come in, to listen, ask probing questions, play devil's advocate (using the principles of constructive conflict); all with a view to re-framing and helping to improve their situation. It can be a highly challenging experience for the mentee to encounter, often causing a degree of mental and emotional discomfort in the process. This is why mentoring will only succeed for the courageous and industrious; those willing to work harder than they believe they did yesterday. Mentoring is not generally recommended for those of a flaky or lightweight disposition.
THE MENTORING PROCESS
To undergo mentoring is to undergo an intensive phase of growth - even several phases of growth, depending on the individual circumstances. This can lead to a temporary feeling of uncertainty, during the transition between the Old Way and New Way - imagine a wobbly toddler first getting to their feet, before their confidence sets in and they begin to rampage around like they own the joint. Not everyone is willing to accept having their thoughts, feelings, experiences and preconceptions challenged. After all, it has been well documented that we all subconsciously seek to have our beliefs and prejudices upheld and confirmed, rather than corrected or nullified. There's usually ego in play, and this is why our first impressions are notoriously hard to override, but I digress.
For the courageous and industrious, the sky is the limit, but we must first establish what your roadblocks actually are, and how they have been allowed to live rent free in your mind. This is where you need your courage, because the questions go deeper and deeper, and deflective answers or avoidance mechanisms will not be accepted. We will always work at your pace, and will pause or stop at any time, but if you're serious about changing your future, you have to leave outdated and limiting beliefs and behaviours in the past. Please let me assure you this is a gentle and nurturing process. I liken it in my mind as tenderly encouraging a tight rose bud to first loosen and then bloom. No amount of impatience or insistence will make the bud unfurl before it is ready, and the same is true of you. This is all about you and you will get there in your own time, it's just that you have come to me to help and guide you on your journey. I will ask you to think more about what drives you and why. My questions, and your answers, may sting but I will encourage you to think of this discomfort only in terms of growing pains.
!@#$!&#! COMFORT ZONE DEVILS
One of my KUTA (Kick Up The Arse) mantras is: Comfort zones are great places to visit, but nothing ever grows there. At some point along your path to date, you have settled into a comfort zone or three, which is why you're feeling blocked and thwarted now. We must challenge these Comfort Zone Devils to a duel - and kill them mercilessly until they are dead! But they're slippery little suckers, so first we must track them down. How do we do this? Easy. We challenge and change your thinking. If you change your thinking, you change your reality, but this isn't easy because your Comfort Zone Devils - feeling threatened - want to keep dragging you back into their zone. Let me give you an example.
I might suggest to you that you get up 90 minutes earlier every work morning, so that you can apply concentrated effort to marketing your business, before the phone starts ringing or the kids need taking to school. Marketing is the single most important aspect of your business, because you're generating new business and retaining/nurturing existing clients/customers. No marketing >> no clients/customers >> no business, it's as simple as that. The Comfort Zone Devils however are not going to approve this change, they're not going to like this at all, because it will require you to get out of a warm, comfortable bed to go to work. Urghhh! It would be so much easier, and so much nicer not to, to stay where you are for a little while longer. You may roll over, stretch, snuggle deeper into your duvet, but this is the precise moment where you have a choice.
You always have a choice. Of course you can stay in bed and snuggle, it's a free country. You are perfectly entitled to choose to obey your dictatorial Comfort Zone Devils - they're in your head after all. Your head, your rules. Or you could choose to mount a coup d'etat and overthrow your own self-limiting thoughts and behaviours. You choose. To effect a coup d'etat all you have to do is focus on what is more important to you in real terms, and for the long term. Think and focus only on the positive aspects i.e.: the completion of the project you're working on, the next high value client you're going to win today, the upturn in EOY profits you're going to enjoy. Focus on these positives and refuse to give negative anything your finite and valuable head space. By focusing on how unsnuggly the world is outside of your bed, the Comfort Zone Devils will forever hold you captive in the prison of short term gains - they will keep you small and they will keep you poor.
I can hear those of you now who are opting for the comfy bed option, and that's okay, we are clearly never destined to meet. It's those of you who may utter the odd expletive whilst throwing back the duvet and just getting on with it, who truly have the (wo)man stones to make a significant change in their world. You need to change your thinking, that's all, but oh the times I've heard "...but I can't just change my thinking, it's not that simple" - or some variation thereof. Hmmm. Okay then, I have an exercise for you to try...
STEP 1: Imagine an unaccompanied German Shepherd dog walking along a path by the side of a road. Now imagine the dog being startled and bolting into the road, only to be hit by a car. The dog is grievously injured, blood everywhere - it's highly upsetting. Once you have this horrific image in your mind, move on and read Step 2.
STEP 2: Now I want you to imagine a cute little German Shepherd puppy, all big paws and floppy ears - fluffy, playful and totally adorable. Have you pictured the cute adorable, fluffy puppy in your mind?
Do you see now how you have just changed your thoughts from something horrific and awful to something adorable and wonderful? You didn't have to pull any levers, no buttons were pushed. You didn't subject yourself to analysis paralysis, or need to medicate yourself. You didn't even need to meditate to effect the change, you just decided and changed your own mind. You decided to participate in my exercise. You chose to follow the instructions. You chose to think through the horrific scenario, and you chose to think about the fluffy puppy. You chose. You decided. You have more power over your thoughts than you think you do, so why don't you use it? Why do you allow yourself to be held hostage by your own thoughts?
For the next 24 hours, why not give this exercise a full test drive? Whenever a horrible, negative, debilitating, frightening thought enters your consciousness, change it. You now know you can, and anything else is just an excuse. Maybe you can create yourself a portfolio of happy, positive, empowering and motivational go-to alternative thoughts, that you can whip out whenever your thought devils try to overpower you? Your go-to positive thoughts will become reflexive and automatic with practice, and can become a gateway to other positive and situation-specific thoughts. The trick is to prevent the devils getting in and taking hold, but you will need to be mindful and present in every moment. There is no room to live your life on automatic pilot here, there must be intent powering everything you do.
If you can master your thoughts for a 24 hour test drive, you can master your thoughts full stop. You will need to be courageous and industrious, but anything worth having is worth working for. I will leave you with this Thomas Paine quote: "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value".