Yesterday was one of those days in a father's life when everything you've gone through preparing your children for real life came to fruition. I was asked by my youngest to sit down and advise him on his choices for insurance, retirement, and budget decisions for his impending first paycheck from his initial employment out of college. We weighed the options and he made wise decisions, got a budget in place and then the conversation turned to his challenges while trying to instill a winning culture into a football program that has gotten used to losing. What a great segway into a life teaching moment!
People resist change! They bang their heads against the wall trying to poke through, when a simple course correction will aim them right at an open door to pass through. The challenge my son faces in coaching football players is not unlike the challenges a life coach faces when mentoring. Repetition and reminder of the principles of success is all a coach can do. The individual has to want to change before one who has the fruit on the tree can show them the path to success. Instilling a clear vision of what success looks like helps the student remember what the sacrifice is all about.
So step one. Paint a clear picture of the prize. Insist on inspiring the elephant side of your student's brain to activate and drive their actions. This has to be a vivid interpretation of the stated goal complete with the accolades of success. Remind them often to keep the elephant in a fully focused mode, denying the ant access to the thought process. (For more information see The Ant And The Elephant by Vince Poscente).
Step two, repeat, repeat, repeat. Individuals have a way of becoming comfortable with the status quo. Even when the status quo is losing, it's become comfortable and familiar. They know what to expect and resist change. Instill course correction by reminder. Remember people respond better to reminders than to being told. Reinforce proper behavior with praise and remind them of the goal. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Step three, know your limitations. Not everyone will accept change. It doesn't mean you stop trying, it simply means you focus the bulk of your energy toward those who accept the mentoring. Don't become overwhelmed with frustration at those who refuse your tutoring, they aren't ready. A person's opinion changed against their will, is of that same opinion still and will revert back to the old habits as soon as your out of sight. This isn't your shortcoming, it's theirs.
Step four. Accept failure and setbacks as teaching moments. There will be failure. They will grow from learning from those mistakes if the student is open to growth. Find the hungry student who is humble enough to set aside their pride to be honed into a shining star. They all aren't shining stars! Some are simply average, some chose to remain below average, and some strive to become above average. We couldn't have exceptional if no one was average or less. Find your diamond in the rough and polish that rock!
When the student is hungry the teacher will appear!