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I love to roller skate — indoor skating in a good rink with great music and a primo floor. There’s nothing like getting lost in a song while you glide effortlessly a few inches above the floor.
I’m pretty good at it too — or at least I was back in the day. During college I even taught classes. I still have the syllabus tucked away somewhere.
What’s your end goal?
During those college days I spent many of my Friday and Saturday nights at the roller rink. Friends would often skate up to me and declare with a beaming face that they had not fallen down all night. Their goal for the evening, apparently, was to stay upright. They were pleased with their “success.”
I always had a different goal. My goal was to be a better skater. I fell all the time. I pushed myself with jumps and turns and backward maneuvers that kept me on the edge of my capabilities. Not falling down was not how I measured success. To go a whole evening without hitting the floor would be to go a whole evening without trying hard enough. How else would I know when I had reached the limit of my abilities? How else could I improve? How else could I learn something new?
Don’t be afraid to fall
When the opportunity arose to teach skating classes, I knew I would have to address this misconception and fear of falling. Part of the course would have to include learning how to fall.
The problem with falling is that our instinctive reaction is to try and stop ourselves from falling. As soon as we lose our balance our arms start flailing and our body starts contorting in a desperate attempt to regain control. Unfortunately, all of this kinetic writhing is the surest way to increase the likelihood of hurting yourself. To minimize injury, the best approach is go to limp and let yourself fall.
The first day of one of my classes was always the same. After we covered the course outline and learned the proper way to lace our skates, the rest of the day was dedicated to learning how to fall. The instructions were simple: skate to the music, and when you hear the whistle, just fall. I would demonstrate with a fall or two — along with a high speed ‘drop and role.’ I am happy to report that there were never any sprains or broken bones in any of my classes.
And so it is with life: Are you choosing “just good enough?”
Our fear of falling holds us back from pushing ourselves. We try just hard enough to do okay, but not so hard that we might fail. As a result, we never really know what we are capable of. We never learn our limits.
In Billy Crystal’s new book Still Foolin’ ’Em he says: “I didn’t become a comedian until I finally stopped being afraid to bomb.” He gets it. Don’t be afraid to bomb — or fall. Success is not so much about staying on your feet as it is in simply getting up one more time than you have fallen.
- Visit your local roller rink. It’s more fun than you remember.
- Do a quick inventory of what you are working on. Are you pushing yourself? Is there an area where you are afraid to fall?
Join in with your story. Use the comments below and tell us about a time that you fell and how you got back up.Read More
A coach helps you be successful in business. A mentor helps you be successful in your business, — in your company, in your industry.
It used to be that you started your career at the bottom and set your sites on the corner office. If you were good — and just a tad bit lucky — a company veteran tapped you on the shoulder and took you under their wing. They showed you the ropes. They introduced you to the right people. They taught you how to lead and they made sure that you got what you needed to be successful. We reverently called these people our “mentors.”
We’re still ambitious. We’re still eager to learn, to be successful, to connect with the right people. We still crave that tap on the shoulder from someone who will show us the ropes. But the taps don’t come as often these days, and they rarely come unsolicited.
Business is more complex now. It takes a wider range of experiences, capabilities and connections than ever before to be successful. We all still crave a “mentor” but we use the word to mean a variety of things. What is it that we really want?
Thankfully, the rise of executive / professional coaching in the last few decades sheds some light on what we crave. There has been a division of labor in the realm of developing leaders.
For some professional development, we need a coach. A coach is a trained and experience leadership development expert who helps you be successful in business. A good coach helps you with the “blocking and tackling” of being a better leader. They provide perspective and insights. They challenge you to see your blind spots. They help you articulate your values and keep them in focus. A good coach will help you build the right team, develop your ability to influence, bolster your confidence, better manage your time, achieve work / life balance, and learn how to manage a challenging team or a difficult boss.
But there are some key areas of success that a coach can’t help you with. Twenty percent of success is building and leveraging the right relationships. A coach doesn’t know who the movers and the shakers are in your company or in your industry. And even if your coach did know who you need to know, he or she can’t make the introductions. Further, a coach won’t know the nuances of your company or your industry. They won’t know the insider secrets that often mark the difference between mediocrity and being remarkable.
Enter, the mentor. A mentor is someone who helps you be successful in this business, in this company, in this industry. A mentor is a seasoned leader who knows how the company works. They know the right people and, when you are ready, can and will make introductions. They know the industry and have honed their instincts over the years. They can pass on that knowledge and wisdom that only comes from a lifetime of experience complete with their fair share of stumbles and failures.
An engagement with a coach is a peer-to-peer relationship consisting of two people both doing what they do best. A relationship with a mentor is one in which the grateful student learns at the feet of the master. Hans Solo was Luke Skywalker’s coach. Obi-Wan was his mentor.
Don’t burden a mentor with the things that a coach can do. Hire a coach to work on the fundamentals of developing into a great leader. Concurrently, seek out and build relationships with mentors who can help you with the insights and the connections to be successful in your business. It’s the perfect division of labor.Read More