26 Apr The Most Powerful Message from a Mentor, Ever.
Think about all of the teachers that you’ve known in your lifetime.
Who was the easiest grader . . . the one who always gave you an “A” for not doing much of anything?
Or conversely, who was the teacher who made you work the hardest and then consistently gave you a “C” because that was all that you really deserved?
Out of those two teachers, which one challenged you to learn more, do more, and become more? I’m guessing it was the tough grader who expected you to work the hardest. For me, that was definitely the case. And frankly, it’s obvious.
This same concept describes one of my mentors who has pushed me the hardest, and in a most memorable way.
In the spring of 2013, my friend, Bill Westveer, ran into my office and said, “I recently met a professional speaker who you really need to meet. His name is Noah Rickun.” Within one week, Bill set up a workout appointment for the three of us so that Noah and I could casually connect. Immediately after our workout, Noah and I chatted in my office for about an hour. After talking about our families and our careers, he told me that he had heard that I wanted to make speaking a part of my career. I slowly responded, “I do, but I’m not quite sure where to start.” Noah then went on to say, “Lots of people tell me that they want to be speakers, but unfortunately, no one does it.”
Setting the Expectation from the Beginning
The next thing that he would say to me forever changed my perspective about any mentoring relationship. Noah declared in clear and direct language, “Here is the deal. I’ll help you, but then you have to actually go after it.” I paused for a moment, glanced away, and thought to myself, “Ok, wait. I’ll have to stop just thinking about it and actually do it?”
Thankfully, I’ve had a network of mentors who have generously helped me and have invested in my career. This time; however, the offer was unique. You see, Noah set the expectation from the beginning that it’s 100 percent on me, the mentee, to follow through and take action. He fully required me to commit to action . . . I could no longer just talk about my dream.
I looked back at him and said, “I’m in.”
4 Ways that Made My Mentor Great
Over the next year, Noah helped me significantly in the following ways:
- He also committed, as he promised. When I was hired to be the keynote speaker for the Biz Times Fittest Exec Competition, I asked Noah to evaluate my speech. Without hesitation, he blocked off his evening to see me in action. I knew then that Noah was serious about helping me improve.
- He told me the truth. A couple of months later, Noah invited me as his guest to listen to his mentor and King of Sales, Jeffrey Gitomer, speak live. During our train ride to Chicago, to attend the event, Noah provided me his honest critique from my prior keynote. He gave me a lot of positive feedback, but also provided three invaluable observations that would improve my future speeches. I fully realized that Noah had prepared for our time together.
- He remained a mentee. At Gitomer’s presentation, Noah put aside his ego and was writing notes constantly. I vividly remember watching Noah nod his head with excitement whenever Gitomer said something that he could take back and apply in Milwaukee. In addition to inviting me to the event, Noah woke up early and set up a private breakfast for the three of us [my mentor, his mentor, and myself] so that we could learn more from the King of Sales. This showed me that Noah was a perpetual learner.
- He put our friendship ahead of the mentorship. For months after the Chicago event, Noah would check in with me regularly, meet with me at Starbucks to talk about life, and invite me to workout with him. Our relationship grew beyond him helping my speaking career. Noah was the teacher who cared about me above and beyond our work.
More Than I Asked For
Are you a mentor? If so, are you giving more value than you are being asked to give?
I was given much more than I ever would have imagined. William Arthur Ward once said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Noah, thank you for inspiring me through your encouraging words, authentic stories, life-changing experiences, and your precious gift of time.
Will You Make the Right Decision?
Are you a mentee? If so, are you committed to action?
Your mentor will help you, too . . . if you actually make the decision to go after it.
ACTION: In a mentoring relationship, it is ultimately the mentee’s responsibility to take action. Write down something specific that you want to accomplish either personally or professionally. This might well be something that you’ve been thinking about quite often as of late. Next, jot down the name of the person who you ideally want to help you. Then, reach out to this person and ask him or her to help you with your specific goal or dream. Finally, clearly demonstrate to them that you are deeply committed to actually going after it!
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