I believe it is impossible for you to reach your potential without good mentorship in your life. I believe you need someone else to follow, besides yourself. I also believe “none of us” is as smart “as of all us.” Most of my great thinking has been done with someone else.
Someone once said to me “Josh, don’t you think I can discover how to be successful on my own,” and of course you can. If you can live a few thousand years. Here is what I know; the quickest way to grow is to learn from others, who are successful. That’s why I continually put myself in a position to be taught.
For example, for 6 years now I have what we call learning lunches. I have one at least one, if not three a month. By learning lunches, I basically make it a point to go see someone and I buy their lunch. And while they eat I am asking them questions. That’s how I learned the law of the lid.
When you read the law of the lid, which has become the most famous leadership law of all, I want you to know that I learned this law from a learning lunch. On this particular day I was in Saint Louis, MO with a guy name John Thomas he was the CEO of a huge company that buys companies that were going bankrupt. I would see him once a month for two hours and I would ask questions about his leadership style and he would share his insights with me.
I remember asking him, “John, when you buy a bankrupt company, is there something you always do.” And I remember he looked at me and he said, “yes there is two things I always do.” I thought oh my goodness he’s going to teach me two things, this is going to be great!
- He said, “We go into all of these companies and we teach the employees relationship skills and provide training.” “Because 90% of people in these types of organizations have had a bad experience with another employee and we teach them how to deal with it.”
I thought this is great; I am taking notes, and when I get back to my organization I need to teach my people about relationship skills.
- He said “number two we always fire the president.”
I looked at him and said, “Wait a minute you always fire the president.” Now I didn’t write that down. I was thought what does that mean. He said “we always fire the president” I asked him “you don’t ask them their side of the story, you don’t go see them, take them to coffee, etc. “He said “no, I don’t even want to meet them, we just fire them.”
I said, “why you do that?” He said, “It is quite simple, if the president was any good, he wouldn’t be bankrupt.”
You know what he taught me that day, the law of the lid. Almost everything I write about and teach about, I learn from someone else. Putting yourself with somebody, under somebody, is essential. Now I also say you need to have several mentors not just one mentor, because I don’t think one mentor is smart enough to teach you everything.
So when people ask me, would you be my mentor I say it depends. I ask them what do you want me to mentor you in? I only do 4 things well. I am great in only 4 areas. One of the mistakes that successful people make, is that they think because the know something on one subject; they think they know something on every subject. And I can tell you that’s simply not the truth.
If I was to tell share with you some advice. When you begin to look for a mentor, only go to individuals that are good in an area that you want to be successful in. I think you are better off going to several different people.
I have mentors in 4 areas:
- Personal relationships
You simply need to find a few mentors that have unique and different strengths and you go to them. Now I have three things I look for when I need a mentor:
- Successful: They have to be successful in what I want to accomplish. I am not taking advice from someone that isn’t successful. If I want to sit down and take notes from you, you better be good. Listen to me carefully; there is not one of you that are going to take notes from me on how to dance. Now I have taken dance lessons, but I can’t dance. You do not need to take dancing lessons from me.
- Do they care for me? Because if you are going to mentor someone you really have to like them. Same thing if you are going to be mentored, you have to like the person. There has to be a chemistry to come together. You are letting them into your life, you will be vulnerable, and the person has to be passionate about your success and best interest.
- Are they teachable themselves? If they are teachable, they are fresh in their thinking. They are always learning. That is what I want in a mentor. I don’t want you to tell me what you have done in the past or what you have learned from your mistakes. Passion comes out of what you are doing now, not what you have done. All of the energy comes into what are you learning now, how are you growing, and what you are doing in the now.
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