First a quote: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you have been following me for any length of time, you have probably read, on numerous occasions, how fortunate I have been to know, and experience, great mentors and leaders, both in my career and in my life. I would not be traveling around the world now, facilitating leadership development workshops, without their invaluable influence and guidance. (And of course, a ton of mistakes on my part and lessons learned the hard way.)
A great number of people who have heard me talk about my experiences wish they had the same or similar mentorship experiences. By far, most people I visit with have never had the benefit of developmental training, coaching or mentoring of any kind. My experience suggests that is the norm, not the exception. All of us could use a cheerleader in our lives, at least occasionally.
Several years ago, I was co-facilitating a leadership workshop with a colleague who asked the participants if she could do a demonstration that would challenge their comfort zones. With some hesitancy, many agreed to participate, a few chose to observe, and all learned from the experience.
She first asked for a group of volunteers who would be willing to get down on the floor and do any number of old-fashioned “nose to floor” pushups; could be three or thirty, the number didn’t matter. I was quite surprised about the number of participants who volunteered. There was easily a dozen, both men and women.
Then she asked each of those volunteers to write down on a piece of paper the number of pushups they thought they could do as a “stretch goal.” I personally committed to 30. (Most, like myself, hadn’t done a single pushup in years.)
She then asked the remainder of the participants to be coaches and cheerleaders for the pushup team. She encouraged the support team to use whatever form of encouragement they desired to help the “pushup people” reach or exceed their goals. Some got down on the floor, some counted, most cheered, all encouraged; there was yelling, shouting, clapping and high fives all around.
Every single pushup volunteer beat their goal… by a fair margin! They all did more than they thought they could do; I did 45 pushups beating my goal by 15! (I was secretly quite happy because I was easily the oldest person in the room and not in very good shape.) Let me repeat that please… we all beat our goals!
At some level, we all need cheerleaders in our lives, someone who believes in us, who cares about us, and who wants us to be our very best… even if we need to be pushed out of our comfort zones. That’s what a good coach does.
By the way, if your company or employer doesn’t have a formal mentoring program, that is no reason for you not to have a mentor. Seek out someone who might be willing to play that role for you. Many would consider it an honor, and both of you will learn in the process. Genuine mentoring is a 2-way street.
Who in your life could use a little encouragement this week? Go be their cheerleader! They will be glad you did… so will you!
How will you live, or lead, differently or better this coming week?
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
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- “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me and I will not forget you.” — William A Ward
- “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
- “There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.” —Henry Ford
- “Fear and self-doubt have always been the greatest enemies of human potential.” —Brian Tracy
- “Helping others, encouraging others, are often acts of kindness that have more meaning than you may realize.” – Catherine Pulsifer
- “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.” – Plato
- “To be inspired is great, but to inspire is an honor.” – Stacey T. Hunt
- “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar. – Orin Woodward