"Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ’What’s in it for me?’ "
~ Brian Tracy
George and I have been friends for about 15 years now. George is one of my trusted mentors.
I first met George when I found myself involved with an international peer-to-peer group called Young Entrepreneur’s Organization or YEO.
George was a member of another peer-to-peer called WPO, whose membership generally consisted of retired or semi-retired executives.
George and I happened to meet at a local business conference and struck up an idea to match members of his organization with members of my organization in a mentor-mentee capacity.
The idea was well received by both groups and approximately 25 formal mentorships were created.
Naturally, George ended up becoming my assigned mentor after all was said and done.
George’s business background was in advertising... specifically... product packaging. He was an original "Mad Man" working on New York City’s famed Madison Ave during the heyday of the 1960’s. After selling his business, he became an investment banker at a large European bank, where he was able to travel the world (he lived in Europe for about 15 years) and break bread with captains of global industries.
Although, he had no direct experience in my particular field nor was he a technical type person, he understood the business of business and what it was that it takes to make a business work.
George and I would meet every month or so for breakfast just to touch bases. He rarely asked me about the minute details of the business but rather he focused his attentions (and mine) on the bigger aspects... what were our plans to grow each year?... where were new sales coming from?... what were we doing to offset increased market activities from overseas competitors?...
He very seldom would offer any opinions of what I was doing but instead just questioned me intensely about the business and what I was doing to manage it. Epiphanies often came to me as I formulated answers to his questions...
Every so often, I would have the opportunity to reciprocate his generosity by offering him computer and/or smart phone technical support so I was at least contributing something to the friendship.
As George has gotten older (now into his mid-80’s) he no longer is able to get around much and has battled a variety of health issues over the past couple of years.
Ultimately, this means that our visits are becoming less frequent so the time has come for me to explorer the possibility of find a new mentor.
As any successful person can tell you, it’s crucially important to have perspective from outside observers... be it a coach... mentor... or business contemporary ...
This is important for sports, for performing arts, and for business...
The people who are performing at the highest levels are just too close to the action to actually be able to step back and evaluate their performance. They need a different perspective to give them feedback so they can improve.
So where can a business person turn to in order to get some valuable training and feedback?
Here are a few ideas that I’d like to offer you if you happen to be looking for ways to improve your performance...
Work with your supervisor or manager to improve your at work performance
It might sound simple... but the simplest solutions are also the ones that tend to work well...
Typically, a foreman, supervisor, or manager has worked in a similar job to yours at one time or another. More than likely, they were successful at it and were promoted somewhere along the way (not always).
There are very few bosses who would turn down a subordinate’s request for honest feedback and ways to improve their performance.
If a current manager seems a bit too close for comfort... try contacting a former manager or supervisor...
Find a mentor
As people’s careers come to close, they still want to feel as though they are being useful.
They want to feel needed and appreciated for the knowledge that they have acquired over their life time.
Although they may not understand the most current technological devices, jargon and gizmos, but they still have years of experience in business and life. More importantly, they now seem to have an excess of time as their responsibilities and commitments have waned.
A good mentor doesn’t need to be a billionaire business tycoon... just someone who has a lot of real life experiences and who is willing to share some of it with you.
Finding the right mentor isn’t hard... a bit of networking can generally help you to find the right person...
Your local chamber of commerce or small business association probably has a program in place to help match mentors with mentees.
Hire a coach
A good coach will help you to first determine what exactly it is you want to accomplish.
These could be business goals, individual pursuits, or helping you to find more balance in your life.
Once you determine where exactly you want to go, a coach will then help you to establish a road map and a plan of action in how to best get there.
The "road map" is simply a series of goals with a corresponding timeline.
Once your plan has been established, your coach can help you to measure your progress and hold you accountable.
A private coach can cost a lot of money, but the cost might be offset with potential increased earnings.
Join or create a peer-group
There are a lot of formal organizations that exist where its members meet in a small groups (sometimes called forums) to share experiences and work on individual business issues.
These groups might include organizations like Vistage, EO, Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Executive Roundtables, SCORE, and Renaissance.
Many times a forum may have an outside moderator who will help to keep the group focused and on point.
These organizations are peer-to-peer so the true benefits typically only come from having a high caliber membership.
These organizations tend to be a bit pricey and have strict requirements for membership so many of them are not appropriate for most people.
A better approach might be to start your own peer group.
This can simply be done by inviting a few friends and associates with similar interests to meet once a month for lunch or dinner.
A topic can be nominated and a lively discussion can take place with everyone offering an opinion or idea about the subject at hand.
The cost of such a group might be limited to the cost of your lunch or dinner once a month.
The key point I’m trying to make this week is that we all need someone to bounce ideas off, someone to help keep us focused on our goals, and someone to help bring new ideas to the table.
There are a multitude of ways to achieve these ends... so there should not be any excuses as to why it can’t be done.
The most important thing is to take the first step in making it actually happen...
You need to reach out and find the right coach/mentor/group that works for you...
... but don’t wait... make it happen today.
Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse, where we are always here to help you in anyway we can...
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