Thursday, June 23, 2011

THE JOY OF MENTORING

One from the archives...with an update

The seminar had just finished and the audience was filing out. The obligatory gestures of acknowledgement and the free-flow of gratitude seemed to be occurring at the customary pace. Then out of the blue my mentor Zig Ziglar gently patted me on the shoulder and said, “I want you to know how proud I am off you.”  He added that he was very impressed with the way I had tackled a difficult subject that was originally credited to him. Taken aback at the suddenness of the compliment, I quickly muttered a thank you and continued to shake the hands of the people still leaving the room. I then realized that he had chosen that moment so that he could praise me in public. I had officially been in and around the teachings of this giant of communication for almost sixteen years and he was still praising performance. Here are a few things he taught me that day about effectiveness in mentoring:

  1. Make Your Praise Sincere – Nothing derails a person’s hopes more than patronizing-flattery that is sugar coated. Ensure that the compliments that are given are done so in a time and place where the individual being lauded feels special and validated.
  2. Make your Compliment Specific - By pointing out the exact area of pride he focused on the specifics and thus gave me an opportunity to evaluate my own arsenal. This method is simply classified in the "Ziglar Way" as one where you isolate the strengths and then work on the weaknesses so that uniformity in all roles can be achieved.
  3. Make Your Actions Consistent – As the years have gone by I am still speechless when I get an opportunity to see him. He still aks whether I am making a difference in the world and still says that he is proud of me. This consistency evokes a feeling of security in an otherwise haphazard and chaotic world. Age and time have passed in this relatioship but I will always say that he has been, is now and always will be the most consistent man I have ever known. 
  4. Make Your Directive Ongoing – In the world of fast paced ideas and ever evolving technology, relationships in the workplace suffer from short-term commitments. When you mentor someone do so with the intention that it is for a lifetime. Getting educated and inspired on an ongoing basis adds to the growth of a relationship. On average Mr. Ziglar used to buy about six books a year for me that he felt would benefit me. Today I try and carry on that method with those that seek advice from me.

When we finished the obligations of the day and were in the airport waiting to return, he reminded me that watching my growth as a communicator gave him immense joy and he just wanted to thank me for giving him the privilege of mentoring. Wow! All the while I thought I was getting the benefits only to realize that the teacher was enjoying the journey as well. The book of Acts gives us an example of mentoring in having a Paul to look up to, a Barnabas to be encouraged by, and a Timothy to leave it to. The lesson I learned is live to learn and learn to live.