Mentoring – how to take control of a business

The latest posting from Dr Robert Brooks was again littered with excellent thought-provoking pointers about how we run our lives. Looking back on his work, he surmised that: 

….I learned that there were some relationships that in actuality were beyond repair and/or destructive to at least one of the family members. I came to realize that therapeutic progress was better assessed through the lens of personal control, namely, by examining whether individuals demonstrated the capacity to identify and initiate constructive action in areas over which they had control to change and/or avoid particular relationships.

After citing a case study about a Mr Larsen, who had been abused as a child and whose father had rejected a rapprochement, Brooks noted the client’s response:

Although he would have preferred reconciling with his father, he said to me with impressive insight, “You’ve often said that you have to focus on what you have control over. I had control over communicating with my father but not his response. I did what I had to do, and now that I know my father’s reaction, I can get on with my life ….

Now jump back to my field of mentoring, specifically the art of being a business mentor. Of my three meetings today, I was able to recall Brooks words on two occasions.

In one specific instance, a hassled middle-aged man described how he has been trying to set up a new distribution business. At his own initiative, within 18 months, he had achieved a lot. In fact, the key missing element was a heavy dose of phone-calling to attract new customers. Only, he had convinced himself that he was no good at marketing and that people would not listen to him.

I asked him to check a small data base in his possession. Ten minutes later, he had a list of 10 people to call and the opening of a smile on his face. He had even started ringing the first numbers. As he grudgingly agreed afterwards, he had got on with it and started doing things.

He asked me how I had succeeded in encouraging him to make that small change. The answer is not as Nike would have us believe: “JUST do it”. If it was that simple, nobody would be behind the ballgame.

I showed him that he had a reason to take control, something very important to him that he was letting other issues hide away. From there on, he could do the rest.

And there lies much in the art of mentoring – empowering people, showing them that they often possess the skills that they believed they lacked.

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