Professional, ambitious people want growth because growth is their road to happiness. That’s why they seek mentoring and coaching. But what if there’s a way you’ve been seeking growth and happiness that actually pushes it away? What if you could use less effort to get more of what you want, by mentoring yourself?
Here’s a simple, self-mentoring assignment that you can complete in five minutes. I invite you to do it right now. Engage in this process and you’ll get some powerful mentoring that could radically empower you to achieve your deepest dreams faster than you imagined possible. I’m dead serious. But it only works if you do it.
It’s very simple. Open up a google doc, or grab your notepad, and complete this sentence at least five times: “I will be happy when…” Write out the whole sentence each time. For example:
I will be happy when I don’t have to work.
I will be happy when I lose ten pounds.
I will be happy when my business is three times bigger than it is today.
I will be happy when I buy a second house.
I will be happy when I can bench press 245 pounds.
I will be happy when I have more free time.
Let yourself let go. Don’t edit. Don’t censor. Try not to even think. Write whatever comes out without judgment. Keep writing until you’re done. Wring out your mind like a sponge. Don’t read on until you do this. C’mon, be a sport! When you’re ready to discover how this simple exercise can radically improve your life, read on.
Okay, good job. Now I’ll tell you a bit about what this is about. Mentoring focuses a lot on goals, but what it often doesn’t focus enough on is the “Why” behind the goals. Fulfillment happens when there’s an alignment between the goals and the needs of the individual. What may surprise you, however, is that while many people appear to know what they want, misalignment here is common.
What if you weren’t nearly as sure about what you wanted as you thought?
What Mentoring Did You Get?
As children, we’re asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But seldom is that question followed up by “Why?” What would that give you? What kind of life do you want to have? What really would fulfill you? The older we get, the more important these questions become. But because the dreaming process begins before we become critical thinkers, many people’s defined goals and dreams still have one foot in the reality of a ten-year-old. You may not even realize this.
The result is that either these dreams don’t come true because they weren’t sufficiently grounded in reality, or they do come true but don’t actually fulfill you because they weren’t really what you wanted. Let’s set a new bar for what ideal parenting/mentoring is. Most parents/managers think that asking their child/employee what they want to be and simply believing they can do it is the best you can do. And certainly it’s better than communicating, “You’ll never amount to anything,” but you can do better. Imagine this scene: you’ve just turned sixteen and your parents pull you aside and say this:
We’ve talked about your ambitions for years now and you’ve got a lot of them, which is wonderful! It’s been important for us to support that dreaming phase, full of infinite possibility, and wonder. But you’re getting older now, and you’re entering a new phase. You’re beginning to solidify as a person, as an adult. And like all adults, you’ve got strengths and weaknesses both. Some of those weakness you’ll change and some not. An adult is responsible for knowing their strengths and weaknesses as well as they can. That’s what it means to know yourself, in part, so you can find freedom inside the personal limitations that you’re still discovering. So we’re going to begin talking with you more practically in these terms.
For example, while you’re a very strong student in almost all subjects, you know you have a big weakness in math. It’s hard for you, and you don’t enjoy it, right? That’s totally fine, you’re gifted in plenty of other areas. But that dream you have of becoming a scientist might not be the best use of your skills. It may just not be You. You might be able to do it, but it also might put you on a road of suffering–trying to be something that you’re not. We won’t tell you that you can’t be a scientist, that’s up to you. But we’re here to give you reflections about yourself that you might not see, to save you the trouble of learning the hard way.
So begin to ask new questions now. “What kind of work is the best use of your skill and natural strengths?” Because ultimately that’s where fulfillment comes from: doing the work that is largely inherent to you. And, related to that, “What do you love doing? What would you do if you didn’t have to work?”
Making a lot of money doing something that makes you miserable might create success, but that’s not fulfillment. Fulfillment is a kind of joy that comes from getting to be fully who you are and expressing it, and it’s worth more than any amount of money. You don’t have to know the answers to any of these questions right now. Some questions are meant to be lived, not necessarily answered. We’re going to help you explore these questions in the coming years so by the time you’re on your own, you’re walking the straightest possible path to your fulfillment. It’s really an honor for us to be your guides on this journey, and ultimately you’re going to walk this path alone, because only you can discover who you are and what you’re meant to do. But we’ll be here as much as we can for you.
You can give this to yourself, right now. In fact, by doing the above sentence completions, you’ve already begun the process (more on this next week). And you can give this conversation to the people you manage or parent in whatever form is appropriate.
Are you concerned you don’t have the skills to be able to do this? It’s easier than you think, and a big part of what you learn as a Clear and Open Member. It’s called mentoring, and when you realize you’ve got a lot to learn about it, you’re already halfway there. If getting better at management and mentoring is interesting to you, click here to learn more about membership.
In next week’s article, I’ll help you interpret the writing assignment you did you’ll have the breakthrough I promised. Stay tuned for the results you’re looking for. In the meantime, let this all sink in and wonder about the difference between success and fulfillment. Ask yourself which you currently have, and where you’re headed.