The Cure For the Super-Person Syndrome
Each person is blessed with specific gifts and talents. No one can know everything or do everything. Recognizing when we need a little help from our friends or mentors can be a freeing experience. A mentor is defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. Wisdom is the product of living. Wisdom reveals that spending valuable time and energy on projects that are uninteresting and overwhelming uses energy that could be directed to the things that are enjoyable and fulfilling. Baseball legend, Hank Aaron reportedly said,” You’re going to have times when you wish you had someone to talk to, someone to get you through trying times.”
Each phase of our lives bring some “trying times” that may actually provide new opportunities to develop gifts and talents. Sometimes loss of the ability or opportunity to do one thing opens the door to something new. For example, when the physical aspect of gardening becomes too demanding for a dedicated gardener, the door may be opening to the opportunity to mentor less skilled gardeners.
When we set goals, do what we can, and treat people well in the process, people emerge that can help and encourage us. These people are often called mentors; meaning they have experienced our new challenge and they can guide us through the journey. Oliver Wendell Holmes has been credited with this summation, “ It is the province of knowledge to speak, and the privilege of wisdom to listen.”
Mentoring can be short term or long term. A person may only need help with a particular situation or may need for help over a longer time. An example of a short term mentoring situation might be dealing with a recent job loss or the decision to move to a smaller home or apartment. An example of a long-term mentoring situation might be the dealing with the diagnosis of health problem. Just talking with someone who has successfully met that challenge can give a person the skills they need to manage the health problem. Many people find that a support group makes disease management much easier and contributes to increased quality of life. Members of a support group often act in a mentoring role.
Mentors do not have to be living; they can be people from a different time and place. Through books, movies, and television we can learn from the life experiences of people from other eras. It is often helpful to learn how someone from the past handled a similar experience.
Most successful people acknowledge that they have looked outside themselves for help. Both American industrialist, Henry J. Kaiser and President Franklin D. Roosevelt publicly admitted that they sought help from others. Kaiser is quoted as saying, “ You seldom accomplish very much by yourself. You must get assistance from others.” Roosevelt said, “ I’m not the smartest fellow in the world, but I can sure pick smart colleagues.”
To select the right mentor or support person, you need to know what help is needed and then screen for qualified people. The strategy for getting the mentoring we need is pretty straightforward. It involves:
Identifying what help is needed
Identify possible sources of mentoring or assistance
Screening potential mentors by:
Looking for people with a history of success.
Looking for good listeners.
Looking for demonstrated high personal standards and ethics.
Looking for people who can work independently and with others.
Look for high achievers
When looking for people with a history of success, interview them and then check their references. Don’t feel pressured to accept mentoring or assistance from someone if you are not thoroughly convinced they are the person you need.
Listening is critical because the person to whom you turn for help needs to thoroughly understand your specific needs. Listening is the foundation of good communication and good communication nurtures trust. For someone to really be a mentor, you must have trust in them.
Actions speak louder than words. Make sure the person you are considering as a mentor demonstrates the things you would consider important personal standards and ethics. If you do not share that common ground with the potential mentor, it will be difficult for you to communicate well and develop trust.
Over time more than one mentor or assistant may be needed. It is important that the people you develop mentoring relationships with, be able to work together. They must all have your best interest at the top of their list.
These rules for screening mentors also apply when it is necessary to hire someone to assist with things that are beyond one’s strength or skills. There are also referral services, professional organizations, and organizations such as the Better Business Bureau to help identify businesses and individuals that have built credible reputations.
You deserve nothing but the best, so choose people to mentor or assist you who set high standards for themselves. If they set their own high standards, you will not have to spend valuable time and energy making sure you are getting quality help. All you will need to do is acknowledge and encourage their high level of performance. Good results are the product of input, feedback and encouragement.