Friday, September 26, 2008

Mentors - consider this

I’m lazy.

Now for those of you that know me, you’re probably thinking my definition of laziness is different from yours. Not so.

Yes, I put out a great deal of effort - words, projects, parenting, keeping house, volunteering, mentoring, etc. and reading at least 4 books a week. But consider this: what I do, I do because I’m interested in it.

When I’m not interested, I want to play Solitaire or read or watch tv. Not being interested at 10 am on a work day can be problematic. Looming deadlines and a full mailbox (voice and data) can’t get me to sit at my desk. I wander into the hallway for tea. I organize a file. I visit with colleagues. All things that also must be done (hydration, relationship management and have you seen my desk?).

Don’t get me wrong. I do everything that Must Be Done. However, I’m really good at avoiding those that Should Be Done. Usually because those things bore me or I don’t see the value. Or because I can think of other things to do that have more interest to me. Which is the traditional view of laziness. No one will suffer because of what I’m avoiding but I’m definitely not making the extra effort.

So as a mentor, I forget this basic in human nature. I can pontificate for hours on what Should Be Done - and no one will do it. I can’t fault anyone for it. People will focus on careers if their career interests them (corporations, please note: it doesn’t interest everyone). People will do the work they Must and most likely do the minimum on the work they Should.

This blog is full of ideas on what Should be done. I can’t prioritize for you. I am planning to re-examine my own career plan with my mentors and determine what’s a Must and what’s a Should. I will try and work with my mentorees on the same thing.

It’s the Should Be Done pile that fascinates me though. Given my nature to be lazy, I need to figure out what might interest me in all that muck. If I can pique my interest, I might do a few more items. If I’m interested, those items move from the equivalent of doing laundry to the comparable enjoyment of a good book. Of course, then it’s not effort and I can maintain my assertion that I’m lazy.

Mentors, consider this: help your mentorees find what’s interesting to them in that Should pile. Because the Must is a minimum. It’s the Should pile where we will all discover real value and progress for ourselves.

“One of the things that may get in the way of people being lifelong learners is that they’re not in touch with their passion. If you’re passionate about what it is you do, then you’re going to be looking for everything you can to get better at it.”
Jack Canfield

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