There’s an old expression, you can’t see the forest for the trees. In business we work amongst the details of day to day responsibilities. That’s how we get things done, our products manufactured, our services sold. But we still need to step back and take a look at the big picture, especially if stalled in our momentum. Where do we go when we stepping back to take a look seems to make us stumble or we are just plain stuck?
Smart business leaders tend to surround themselves with smart people on their team. But there’s no written rule that everyone on the team must be an employee. A fantastic member of the team, perhaps unconsidered because not technically on the team, is the mentor. In fact, because the mentor is not part of the day to day process, their unique perspective is the launching point for a more objective conversation and perhaps evaluation. They are the neutral sounding board for whether or not those day to day activities we are so focused upon actually drive our goals and support the strategy.
Seeking a mentor that could evolve into a trusted advisor may start with a network of friends, professional associates, organizational groups or community involvement. Regardless of how the relationship starts, the heavy lifting to maximize the mentorship should fall to the individual. It’s up to the individual to provide transparency so the mentor has accurate information to which he can offer his own advice or frame his experience share. In order to provide critique of our efforts, the mentor has to be aware of the full strategic vision, plus past, current and planned process around it. Having to articulate that information to a mentor and not someone “in the forest with us” may be the first step to self awareness. If you can’t articulate your goals and your methods to your mentor, do you really understand them yourself?
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” — Albert Einstein