It’s possibly the biggest question to be asked in business, but often the one which is avoided.
Why are you doing what you’re doing ?
So whilst you ponder on your own why, I’m going to start with a little ramble through my personal motivation for mentoring.
Having reached a “mature” age and with many years of business experience under my belt, I have in the last few years put myself forward as a mentor to business owners facing challenges with start up or growing businesses.
Why? – I want to share my accumulated experience of both successes and failures to support others and the honest truth is I enjoy mentoring.
I’m not doing it for any commercial gain unlike some others in the space, I don’t want to prey on vulnerability or naivety. I genuinely seek to support, inspire and enable.
However my selection process is becoming more honed.
For a start I only mentor business owners who have an interesting motivation for setting up their business.
If the vision is to make piles of money I’m happy to walk away and leave them to count their dream cash.
If the vision is to solve a problem, which they or a loved one has experienced then I’m quite often hooked.
A lot of my choice is based around the individual; they need to have energy and drive and more importantly humility.
If they admit to a mistake or a failure then my green light is on.
Similarly if the individual is talented and creative I’m also quite often drawn in, there seems to be a trend for these individuals to be very humble and to have a tendency to undersell their service.
They often create a product and sell it for the sum of its parts ignoring the value in the imagination and design, actually the highest value ticket item.
Because it’s their talent they can’t see it – they’ve been gifted it so why would somebody pay for it?
There are epiphany moments along the way when the talented one realises that they have a golden ticket at their fingertips!
I really love encouraging and enabling creatives as we need them in our lives. The world would be a very dull place without their colour and unique perspective on the world.
By way of example I’m going to take this moment to pay tribute to an amazingly creative man who I was privileged to meet last week. I would never have met him without being in the world of mentoring.
Mentoring is hugely rewarding and I can best articulate this in the words of one of my newest mentees who described me as a “rustic fairy godmother”
So this isn’t a godmother who spreads fairy sprinkles by way of solution, it’s someone who’s a bit more realistic, a bit less magical than that.
Through intense listening I help the business owner unearth their own solution.
It’s not the mentor’s job to tell the business owner what to do, I sometimes offer advice but it’s just an option. The biggest value I aim to bring is in allowing the business a voice and the space to articulate their vision.
The listening process creates a huge amount of energy and is life affirming.
The articulation of their own vision very often results in something very powerful and reveals the Why, not just of the business but also of the business owner.
This can be a deeply personal Why, a desire for self-expression, validation or retribution there are an endless range of Why’s.
With a backdrop of the Why, the answers to the next steps are easier to find.
The big Why rules out many options, which don’t satisfy the greater goal; a huge focus is created.
We don’t start with the to do list but rather with the end goal.
Once the end is articulated the actions follow more easily.
So then I leave them for a while to get on with it …but with a promise to be back in a while to check up on actions and dig about in the dirt a little bit more.
If you’re thinking of mentoring my recommendation would be to try it, in the world we live in today anything collaborative which lifts the human spirit and focuses on creativity and finding joy has to be a good thing.