When you have to make a tough business decision – you know, the decision that wakes you up in the middle of the night; the one that you are wrestling with and it seems no one but you can ultimately make. In this moment it is hard to gain perspective because you are too close to the situation. Then you internally make a decision and wait to see how you feel. Been there? Or, you find yourself trying to sell yourself as to why you were right but then you question why am I selling myself?
What has been helpful to me are mentors and specifically, wise council. They are outside your paradigm and do not share your bias of what is working and not working. They are far more interested in the actual facts of the situation and also are concerned with your overall well-being as a person. They never tell you what to do but always ask questions that challenge your presuppositions and force you to peel the onion another layer. This 30 thousand foot perspective allows you to think clearer, which in turn will help you make better decisions.
The question is where and how do you develop these mentors.
Step One –Start identifying potential mentors. Wise council is easy to identify. They are at least 10 years older than you and have a net worth five to ten times greater.
Step Two – Build a relationship with the potential mentors. Some you will click with and others you will not. This trusting relationship takes a couple of years to develop. Start by making 30 minute phone calls once per month asking for advice – just listen and say thank you. Then, within two weeks, anything that you implement from the conversation, write a brief email thanking the person.
Step Three – When you are at trade shows, conventions, or have an open lunch, invite them to lunch to spend time in their presence. Be fascinated and full of questions when you talk about yourself or business. This is only to give their advice context… thank and always give written feedback in appreciation.
Step Four – Keep a journal of their advice and your actions. Write down all their questions they asked you to consider and then write down your answers to reference in the next call or visit.
Step Five – Repeat all the steps above. Always be developing new mentors and also be willing to extend grace and give back to younger folks who might be seeking your wisdom… pass it on.
Also, you should have other professional mentors who you do not have a relationship with but rather, you can glean their wisdom and insights through blogs, books, and YouTube. One person for me is Warren Buffett, perhaps the most famous Dale Carnegie graduate alive today. I read as much as possible about how he thinks…for example, he was even quoted in Sports Illustrated this week by Dan Patrick:
Dan Patrick: “What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to money?”
Warren Buffett: “Not learning the habit of saving early, and then trying to get rich quick. It’s pretty easy to get well-to-do slowly. But it’s not easy to get rich quick.”
Dan Patrick: “How much money do you have in your pocket right now?”
Warren Buffett: “Right now I have about $200. But I‘ll tell you this, at the end of the day I’ll have $200.”
That is wisdom! All of my kids got that quote with in two days.
Human Relations Principle of the Week:
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
By Stuart Miles, published on 09 October 2013
Stock Image – image ID: 100207095