You are already a mentor… Now is the time to be great at it.

You are a mentor.

If you are a leader, manager, friend or parent… you are a mentor.

Being a mentor is an absolute privilege and one of the best personal development tools ever!

Having a great mentor can allow you to see the world differently and accelerate your skill set and knowledge vastly. Being a great mentor can transform your capability, understanding and level of fulfilment in your life.

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As I stated in the title, you are already a mentor – therefore it is good practice to take your role seriously – Here are the top five attributes a great mentor will always have:

Be a servant

Mentoring should never be about the mentors ego! It is very attractive to be seen as the very knowledgeable mentor, who has all the answers. The fact of the matter is, the mentee already has the right answers… They just need help. The mentor has to share their experiences and ask great questions, for the service of the mentee, not for their own ego.

Be Observant

The best mentors care, so they give their absolute focus and attention to the mentee during their conversations. There is a lot of literature on active listening, however the single defining factor of listening well is caring and giving your absolute focus. Great mentors do this every time.

Don’t judge

imagesWe are all human: we all perceive things differently and would act in different ways in different situations. The worst thing a mentor can ever do is compare and judge the mentee’s actions and thought process against their own. The only outcome from this is to allow the mentor to feel superior and the mentee to feel inferior. Not a great format for a positive mentor relationship!

Be curious

There are courses you can pay a fortune to go on that will teach you listening and questioning skills. What these courses teach you are the skills that come naturally when you are genuinely interested and curious. If you enter a conversation with a desire to learn as much as you can about the other individual, you will actively listen… you will ask brilliant questions… you will be able to go deeper and quicker than you can imagine, just by being curious.

Be authentic

For a mentoring relationship to work, both parties have to trust and respect each other. To attain these virtues, both parties will need to be genuine and authentic. Being a mentor isn’t about being a perfect teacher and giver of wisdom. Rather, it is about being human, showing vulnerability and giving the best advice you can from both your successes and mistakes.

You are already a mentor… You may as well be great at it! Hopefully, my advice will improve your effectiveness, productivity and transform your mentoring.

Do You Know What You Need To Focus On To Become The Best?

We all want success.

But to be successful we must become the best we can possibly be… But the best at what?

We have so many possibilities, so many opportunities, that our personal development can become a tangled mess because we want to get better at everything.

Success… Real success… Game changing, life transforming success, comes with purposeful focus.

When you understand what to focus on and push all your development into that area you will transform your life. Watch to learn more:

The Best Coaching Questions in The World… Ever.

It is common knowledge that being able to coach those around us is an extremely important aspect of personal development… but knowing the practical steps to become better coaches is not common knowledge!

We have so many different definitions of coaching – but, for the purpose of this post, the definition I will use is one made famous by Sir John Witmore (He is the great mind behind the GROW coaching model).

He said coaching is:

“Helping people learn rather than teaching them.”

I personally love this definition, as it removes the need for the coach to provide the solution. The easy thing to do when coaching (and the biggest mistake) is to provide the person you are coaching with lots of your ideas and opinions.

What Sir John Witmore’s definition does, is allow the coach to understand it is okay to hold off giving their opinion just that little bit longer, by asking good questions and discovering real opportunities.

If this definition of coaching resonates with you, then I can help you become a better coach.

Before we get to the detail, here is some really simple advice, that will help you no matter what your definition of coaching is:

Pick a good question to ask.
 Ask it.
 Just once.
 Shut up.
 Put all your energy into listening.

You might look at this list and think that it is over simplistic, but the truth of the matter is most coaches don’t stick to these principles! Yes they are simple, but they are also powerful – Apply these principles to your coaching and watch how impactful and productive your coaching sessions become!

I promised the best coaching questions in the world -Here they are, with a brief explanation as to why they will accelerate your coaching to the next level when you apply them pro-actively:

What’s on your mind?

whats_on_your_mind_by_dandingeroz-d7bs0tlIt is a simple question and incredibly easy to ask – so why does it make it into the best ever list?

It is because this question hands over power to the person you are coaching. It is their agenda, it is their autonomy. It says to them, ‘talk to me about the stuff that is important to you’

If you genuinely want to see the biggest improvements in peoples performance, focus on the important stuff… The important stuff is their decision, not yours!

 

 

And what else?

Do not underestimate the power of this question!!! I can completely understand you reading that and thinking ‘what on earth? how is that a great question?’.

Here is why:

  • The first answer someone gives is never the only answer.
  • The first answer is rarely the best answer.
  • This question expands the original answer to a much deeper level.
  • This question makes the person being coached do the work, so helping them learn rather than teaching.

If you are saying ‘Yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘No’ to?

If ‘and what else?’ gets the person to think deeper, then this question gets the person to think wider. This is a great strategic question and what it does is re-frame the situation in the person’s mind. I like to think of it as allowing the person being coached to step out of the immediate situation and review the bigger picture for themselves.

By doing this, we ensure that the person being coached is focused on the right elements longer-term.

I understand you don’t know. If you did know, what would you say?

It can only ever be asked when the last thing said was ‘I don’t know’, but in those circumstances this is my favourite ever question. When you first read or hear the question, I think it sounds crazy… but it works.

In that moment, when the person you’re coaching says “I don’t know”, it is so easy to jump in with advice – don’t! Ask this question instead. The science behind it is, our brains are smart enough to answer any question it is asked, as long as you eliminate any pre-conceptions.

What this question does is allow the pre-conception that they don’t know to be accepted and then asks a question framed in a way that creates pathways to new answers.
Try it and this is what will happen. They will have a strange laugh, they will think for a moment and then they will answer the question.

What was the most valuable aspect of todays discussion?

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaalaaaajgixmwjlnmfklwvmnwutngq3mc1iztnlltawzgzhyje5mmfkzgThis question is great to enable a clear review, refine the focus and add a feel good factor to a coaching session. What every coach wants is there to be a good action plan at the end of each session, this question reinforces the learning from the session and creates the framework of what actions need to be taken to move forward in performance.

In Summary:

Those are what I think are the best coaching questions in the world ever. They have worked wonders for me and hopefully can add value to your coaching sessions too.
Do you agree with the questions here? Or do you think they are a load of rubbish and know of some better questions?

Whatever your opinion, let me know in the comment box… it is good to share!

Ego is The Mortal Wound in Your Leadership

We have all, at some point in our lives, had the unfortunate experience of working with a boss who has a big ego. About five years ago I worked on a project with a chief operating officer of a global company and she was totally in love with her ego.

She consistently told me how great she was. I remember the stories now, ranging from her exceptional performance at school, to becoming a ‘big player’ in the business world. According to her, she had done it all… perfectly… every time.

The thing is, she is not the only one… If we are honest, finding a manager or leader with a big ego is not a rare occurrence. In fact you can probably think of a leader in your life who has a massive ego. Or even worse… maybe, just maybe, someone reading this would think of you?

“Our ego hinders our ability to influence more than anything else under our control. Ego is the biggest reason leaders fail.”

Michael McKinney

When a leader’s ego grows to the point were they believe they always have the right answer… a leader will fail.

When a leader’s opinion matters more than their follower’s opinions… a leader will fail.

When a leader stops listening and stop learning… a leader will fail.

When a leader surrounds themselves with people who continually confirm and conform to their will and pander to their self-worth… a leader will fail.

Ego is the mortal wound of leadership. It distracts you from the foundational truth of leadership… The best leaders in the world, bring out the best in other people.

How can we ensure our ego doesn’t get in the way of being a great leader?

Ego isn’t a real thing. It is just an idea. An idea of who we think we are and who we believe we are.

This idea tells us:

“Who I am is what I have.”
“Who I am is what I have done.”
“Who I am is what other people think of me.”
“Who I am is how much stuff I own and how much that stuff is worth.”

An ego, in the simplest of terms, believes that it is separate from everything else and in competition with everything else.

As leaders we need to be aware of our own ego and evolve it, so we become great leaders that serve our followers.

The three levels of ego evolution

Dr. Wayne Dyre, explained that there are three stages of ego evolution in adulthood and I think these have clear links to leadership.

The Athletic.

23119634This is based on “What you look like, is what you are”. It is simply a narcissistic view on life. It is about looking good, rather than doing good.

You will see this in leaders that will attempt to take the credit for other peoples’ ideas and work, in order for them to be seen in a positive light. You will hear these type of leaders continually discredit other people too. This is to make others look bad, in order to elevate their own status.

It is clear that possessing this type of ego will detrimentally effect your leadership. It will erode trust, loyalty, respect and authenticity. All of which, I hope you agree, are critical to leadership.

The Warrior

Guild-Wars-2-WarriorIn my experience, this is the most common version of ego you will find in leaders. This is all about being the best. It is about competing, fighting and being the number one.

In moderation, this can be beneficial to leadership. But when it grows into a self-fulfilling, ever growing and unstoppable ego, then it becomes disastrous.

Believing you are always right and surrounding yourself with only people who say you are right, is frighteningly bad leadership.

Logically, how can any one person be smarter, better and more intelligent than a whole team of people? The simple answer is they can’t. Yet with a warrior ego, a leader won’t listen to others’ opinions. They will lose engagement, value and commitment from their teams.

The Statesman

This evolves from ‘What can I get’ that you find in the first two stages, to a ‘How can I serve?’ focus.

What-is-servant-leadership-ghandi-help-others-1024x576At this stage a leader understands that they are connected to their teams and followers. Their success is the growth and development of their people.

As a servant, a leader will gain: Trust, loyalty, respect, authenticity, engagement, value and commitment from their followers.

They will also instantly tap into the collective mind-power and ideas of the whole team, which the Statesman leader, understands is far greater than their own individual intelligence.

Why does leadership fail?

An Athletic or Warrior ego is the most common reason why leaders fail.

What level of ego evolution do you live and work at?

Are you in it to look good? Are you in it to be the number one, have lots of power and make all the decisions?

Or are you in it to serve those around you? To create the environment for people to flourish and grow?

Two Simple Steps That Will Help You Build Strong Relationships… Today.

This is a video I have created, about how to create deep and meaningful relationships with those around you. Being able to connect quickly and authentically is such a powerful life skill and has massive benefits to you and the world around you.

These three strategies have literally changed my life, by vastly improving the relationships I have at work, at home and socially.

Hopefully, this advice can help you:

4 strategies to bounce back from failure

This is a video I have created,  about some of the strategies I have used when I feel negative, rejected or a down right failure!

These approaches and techniques have been critical in enabling me to pick myself up, dust myself off and get back to fighting for my goals… Quickly and powerfully!

Hopefully, this advice can help you if you ever feel low:

The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself

Common advice from motivational gurus and experts would normally go along the lines of; “Face your fears and overcome them”.

I think a little differently. I think fear is going to play a part of our lives, no matter what, and we should use it rather than try to remove it.

Fear is a deeply routed emotional state that was created, to help us avoid pain and danger. When fear is in full swing it is a great motivator… it increases heart-rate, boosts energy levels and can improve performance levels. That can be really useful if used in a situation where you need to avoid real and genuine danger!

The common problem we face, is that we attach the feelings of fear to things we have nothing to be fearful of… Things like failure.

If we are fearful of failing, rather than being a helpful feeling, fear can be destructive and debilitating. Fear of failing could easily stop us striving for success. Think about it for a moment – If you strive to be a success, then that means you will have to inevitably take some positive action. The problem is, whatever action you take is not guaranteed to be successful, so therefore taking action produces a risk of failing.

The risk of failing will create fear and as we know, fear will equip and motivate us brilliantly… However, it will be the wrong type of motivation, we will be motivated to not take the action we need to take in order to be successful!

That is not good news for any long-term success strategy.

Fear should not be connected to success or failure – If you currently do, only you can break this pattern.

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What are your rules on failure and success?

Take a moment or two to think about this – It is easy to dismiss this question, but when you give yourself the time and space to genuinely answer you might find some surprises.

What does it take to become a success? What does it take to become a failure?
Are the answers you give to those questions realistic? Are your answers based on fixed criteria (like an amount of money, a certain job or a specific event) or are they based on consistent growth and improvement?

Are the answers you gave, even your answers or are you trying to achieve someone else’s perception of success?

What should our rules be?

The most important aspect to remember is success and failure are both just a feeling… They are not a job, they are not an event and they are not an amount of money either!

You have complete access to your feelings at any given moment. It isn’t an external process, so things don’t have to happen to you in order for you to feel successful. It can be as simple as just deciding and then taking action towards growth.

You are free to decide your own rules on success – my advice? Choose growth and progression. Choose to be fearful of failing to take action rather than fearing the results of those actions.

Choose to feel the fear of failing to take action as much as possible!

How to deal with really annoying people!

Earlier this week, I spent time with two perfectly pleasant individuals who, on the surface appeared to really dislike each other. No matter what they discussed, it always seemed to finish in a disagreement and sometimes they disagreed before the discussion started!

Upon reviewing this with them both individually, they said that they found the other person really difficult, challenging and stubborn.

This reminded me of the times I have found certain people in my life particularly challenging, rude and sometimes obnoxious. We all have these people in our lives, even now someone has popped into your head while reading this!

What we normally do with these people is either to fight fire with fire, defending our cause to the death and reflecting the rude behaviour they showed. Or we retract inwardly, making our interactions the minimum they have to be.

It may come as a surprise, but I have discovered neither is a good strategy!

A few years ago, I decided this had to change, that I had to change. I did lots of research and I interviewed people who are saintly when interacting with others. Here is what I have learnt and maybe these approaches can help you deal with that really annoying person in your life:

1. Understand what a difficult person is.

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In its simplest terms, this will be a person who has a different perception or perspective than you and will communicate that in a way that pokes at your value system.

For example, if a key value you hold is respectfulness and you believe that the way to demonstrate respect is listening to the other person without interruption – then you find that someone who continually interrupts you with disagreements to your perspective, you are highly likely going to find that person difficult to deal with.

So with that in mind, it is important to appreciate the fact that other people can have a different perspective than you AND YOU CAN BOTH BE RIGHT.

2. Ask “What is going on in their world at the moment?”

The overwhelming majority of people will see themselves as ‘the good guys’ and do not deliberately spend their lives trying to be a difficult, obnoxious person! The reality is that there will normally be an external stress or pressure somewhere in that person’s life to cause the bad behaviour. Except this and you can easily stop taking their actions as a personal attack.

One particular example of this has stuck with me. I once opened a door to get into a building and a woman walking the other way barged past me without a word. I was offended by this rude behaviour instantly and sarcastically shouted “Thank you” in her general direction. I later found out that she had just been told that her son had been in a serious car accident and was rushing to the hospital to find out if he was okay. Who was the difficult and obnoxious person?

3. Ask “What does this person need?”

As described above, bad behaviour is rarely a hobby for people, so understanding that the difficult person you are dealing with will need something in that moment is important. Do they need a break from the discussion? Do they need to be listened to? Or maybe they need encouragement?

4. Listen to understand… Don’t listen to defend!

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Listening to defend is letting the other person speak, just so you can gather more information to argue your point! This is literally useless and will not improve the relationship one bit!

It is common sense that understanding others point of view is critical in building relationships, rapport, gaining trust and creating a collaborative working relationship. Common sense is sometimes just not common practice. The key factor here is to take accountability to understand them first, don’t expect them to listen to you first.

5. Clearly communicate your own perspective.

Again this sounds obvious, but this is a common mistake.We assume everyone knows what we know and see what we see.

Don’t assume they see ANYTHING the same as you – people are not mind readers, don’t expect them to be.

I remember a time that I had an argument with my then girlfriend about the colour we should paint the bathroom (Yes -really). Anyway just based on the fact that we were stood in different places in the room, we couldn’t agree on the colour. We literally had a fight about this until I stood in the same place and she was, then I realised that the colour I liked looked awful when the light hit it a certain way!

I assumed she could see the same as what I could see… Never assume!

I hope you enjoyed this post and it help’s you in your relationships with those difficult, annoying people in your life! Remember it’s only fair to share, so please share this post!!

STOP wasting 30 days a year!

I was recently given feedback that I wasn’t ‘present’ while playing with my kids. I was there physically, but apparently I spent half my time looking at my phone. I didn’t even notice I was doing it, but one thing is for sure, my children deserved more from me.

It’s not just my fault though… The current social narrative is that we live in a time that is more connected than ever before. Technology gives us more, faster and life is better… or so the story goes.

The narrative we are told doesn’t tell the whole story…

It’s true we have more connections than ever before. Just look at the average number of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ we have on social media. I myself have over 1500 connections on LinkedIn and a different 1500 on Twitter.

However, even though our ability to connect is greater than ever before, our true deep connections are being diluted and degraded by our addiction with staring at the screens of phones, laptops, TV’s and tablets. This addiction of being ‘plugged in’ paradoxically impacts our ability to connect with the present moment, to be fully immersed in the beauty of now and to deeply connect with the people physically around us.

You will have seen it yourself… In restaurants, coffee shops and other social events. Couples, families, maybe even you, rather than connecting with each other in the moment, they have their faces glued to their phone screens… together, but separate.

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If you are interested in living a fulfilled life, that is energised and joyous, then the simple truth is, our addiction to technology and social media is like a virus eating away at our chances of happiness. I promise you… at the end of your life you won’t say “I wish I had just spent more time on Facebook”.

“Technology is nothing. What is important is that you have faith in people. That they are basically good and smart, and if you give them the tools they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

Steve Jobs

Are you addicted?

Do you look at your phone/social media as soon as you wake up? Do you have your phone within arms reach at all times? Do you look on social media more than 3 times per day?

You’re addicted.

The average person, in the western world, watches TV 3 hours per day – In the USA it’s over 4 hours per day… That is just watching TV!  We haven’t even added the time spent on useless emails, internet or social media!!

If YOU use technology less than the average westerner and your TV, internet, social media etc usage is only 2 hours per day, how much time are you losing that could be spent on doing something amazing? How much time would you have to connect deeply with those you love? How much time would you have to be present and enjoy the here and now?

Well, for a start it’s 14 hours per week.

Or an extra full 2.5 days per month.

Or an extra 30 days a year!

How about over a life-time? Over 65 years you would get 47320 hours… that’s 1971 days…
That is five and a half years… 24 hours everyday, 7 days a week, for five and a half years!!!

Just imagine what you could achieve with your relationships, with your goals, with your life…

Don’t ever tell yourself you don’t have the time and please don’t get to the end of your life and wish you had connected more deeply with the people you love. Don’t wish you had spent more time enjoying the present moment, don’t wish you didn’t have the time to chase your dreams.

Don’t let your addiction to technology ruin your life.

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I am going to commit to change and I invite you to join me in the battle to make our lives amazing.

Together, we can commit to removing all technology from your life for 2 hours everyday – no phones, no games, no TV, no screens of any kind. Just you and real life.

The only rules are no technology and no sleeping during the 2 hour amnesty!

Do it everyday for a month, so you will get 2.5 days extra to do something that matters to you. Tell people you love them, learn new skills or contribute a little more, it’s up to you.

Make a significant difference in your life. I will report back in 30 days to share what I managed to achieve… I hope you will too.

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You become like those you spend most time with – Choose wisely!

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I remember being in an interview for a company that I wasn’t convinced I should join. During the interview, as is customary, I had the opportunity to ask some questions.

I asked “What is the best thing about working for this company?” I was struck deeply with the answer and I was determined to work for this company.

The answer I received was “I have never worked with a senior leadership team that stretches, challenges and inspires me as much as the team here. If you are serious about becoming a world-class leader, then surround yourself with people who are already world-class”.

The moral of the story

Right now you are living and working to the level of those you are in proximity too. You will pick up and take on the habits, attitudes and focuses of those around you. This means you have to be extremely careful who you choose to spend your time with.

Did you choose who you will become? Is the contribution you will make to this world what you first dreamed of, when you had the freedom to dream? Or have you allowed the people around you to decide for you?

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher”

Oprah Winfrey

Most people don’t think like you

When you do choose who you will become, align yourself with the people who are already the masters of what you want to be great at. Learn from them, grow with them, let them contribute to your development.

Align yourself with people who think like you… who have a purpose like you… who dream like you.

Most people don’t live their purpose anymore, they don’t dream anymore. Most people will complain and moan about how hard life is, while compromising their talents and dreams for other people’s agendas.

The fact that you are reading this means you are already a high-performer. You want more, you know there must be more. You have passion, purpose and vision.

Now you have to live it… This takes drive, persistence, hard-work and resilience. The biggest enemy is within the story we tell ourselves. This is why it is vital to align with people who believe what you believe. We all need help, we all need support… surround yourself with the very best you can!

The future is unlimited for you

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Why can’t you achieve your dreams? The past doesn’t equal the future. Let the past go. If you are not living the life of your dreams, then change your life!

The action you take today is the defining factor. You cannot do anything about the past, but you can do everything about now.

If you want to improve, then you have to do something different. If you don’t change you will just keep on getting the same results you have always had… You are the star of your life… make your life a hit!

Ask yourself “Who do you want to be?”

Then surround yourself with people like this – challenge yourself – grow – learn – bring out the best in you.

Take the risk to be your best.