Quality Mentorship: Doesn't Operate Like A Gas Station Car Wash!

Title’s dumb. I know. But stick with me through the next 2-3 paragraphs. See for yourself if what I’m saying holds merit, or not. 

Most mentors are like car washes; treating only what’s on the surface of an issue not what’s impacting your engine performance. 

The many coaches I encounter talk more about what’s needed, why it's necessary and less about how to bring it about. Car wash coaches talk more, impose more, assume more, suds up more, uncover issues and affect sustained change less. 

We're all smart enough to think things through for ourselves, if we take the time and create the conditions for doing so. Some of know how but undervalue doing it. Others of us understand its value but don't know how to practice positive critical think-thru. May of us just haven't been mentored into exactly how to problem solve effectively.

Many of us are good problem solvers. But we won't be great until we can apply more than one tried and true approach to solving different problems, of different natures and complexities.

I recall one SVP I worked with. Revenue and results driver. Strong problem solving skills. Low situational awareness. Lower emotional intelligence. Applied the same solution approach to all the fires he was called to put out. He was know as a "hot shot," a known firefighting term applied to those dropped out of planes by parachute into hot zones. He took pride in his skills.

I warned him that not all problem fires he faced were the same. He was confident he could put out any fire he was called to, because he had. His overconfidence though some few months later nearly cost him his job. He treated a new problem with water as he always had. Expect this fire was electrical. He went down in flames, problem blew up and his career got burnt as a result.

Back to car washes. Car washes come in many types. Hand wash and dry. Drive through, gas station machine wash. Coin operated, self-service, jet spray, do-it-yourself-washing. Regardless, the process is surface focused.

Real coaching or mentoring goes beyond multi-colored, mint-fresh, soaping and rinsing language and promises of a clean shine. 

Real mentoring is actionable and accountable; it reveals the following;

1. What the real issues are underneath perceptions. 

2. Clear definition of outcomes wanted, needed and relevant.

3. Data-driven, research qualified, scientific assessment.

4. Specific actions needed across who, by when to get desired outcomes.

Multi-colored, mint fresh, sprayed soapy, treatment approaches should be left to gas station car washes, not mentoring relationships.

Smart mentorship is S.M.A.R.T focused (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-focus), not heavily lathered, buff drying, one-process-fits-all-cars, applications. 

Quality mentoring asks the vital questions rather than being the subject matter expert; delivering the "here's what will work" answers. 

Quality coaching assumes the inherent intelligence in others and draws that out by providing conditions for positive, critical think-thru. Quality mentoring is non-directive.

Want a car wash? Find a place. Choose a service and price plan. Pay. And roll in. At least you know what you’re driving into.

Want a coach? Choose an action-oriented, results approach. One that encourages your building up your critical think-thru skills, leadership step up and accountability.

Try an approach that reveals your clarity, increases the shine in your situational awareness and enriches your problem solving capacity - not one with rainbow colored soap flakes lacking in grit but making up for it in soapy, perfumed hype. 

Looking for quality mentorship, know what you’re driving into. Its a car wash out there!