I began writing yesterday about the influence and life lessons of a mentor who invested in me twenty years ago. Here are a few more lessons learned:
Be willing to initiate uncomfortable conversations. Most of us are not fans of uncomfortable conversations. So we tend not to initiate discussions about items that lurk beneath the surface that really need to be addressed. I think it was Tim Ferriss who said something like “your satisfaction in life is directly related to the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.” Through this past mentoring relationship, while I was usually on the receiving end of uncomfortable conversations, I learned how to initiate these and the benefit of doing so.
Be straightforward. We can all live with the truth, or at least we should be able to. Tell it like it is. I don’t mean to be ignorant of the art of tact, diplomacy, or the other person’s point of view. Don’t just assume that people “get it” and then “write them off” if they don’t. If you have a point to make, make your point briefly, clearly, and directly.
Be willing to challenge people. We tend to be afraid of challenging people. We’re more interested in protecting our psyche from rejection. But many people really want to be challenged, especially when it comes to living for a cause larger than themselves. Don’t be afraid of this. Give people opportunities to develop their skills, to invest in a cause, and to become part of a community.
How have people invested in your development? What have you learned from them?