You Cannot Do It Alone! Finding Your “Yoda” by Pegine Echevarria
I literally wrote the book on women leaders being mentors in the lives of girls and women. I present to men’s groups, women’s groups, corporate groups and associations, sharing the benefits of being a mentor and finding a mentor, but today I have had to face the truth and share my truth with you.
I dislike having to seek a mentor (I originally wrote hate, but maybe that was a bit harsh). I dislike having to ask others for help or advice. I truly hate being vulnerable. If I have to ask someone for help or guidance, I sometimes feel that I will be perceived as weak, not together enough or unsuccessful.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. I am still growing, evolving, progressing and learning, just like everyone else. As a new manager I remember the struggles of trying to be the “all knowing” boss while feeling fear, because I didn’t know what my job entailed . . . never mind leading others to success in their job.
Now, years later, I am hired as an expert on success, leadership and teambuilding, however there is so much I have to learn as a business owner, consultant and speaker. There is so much knowledge I want to acquire. I do not get crazed anymore about not knowing . . . I know now that questions, research and my network can connect me to the information I am missing.
There is a facet in my quest for knowledge that causes me angst and I realise that many of you feel as I do. That is that I have to take responsibility, get out of my inner “stuff” and be vulnerable, so that I can seek and access my “Yoda.” After seeing the new Star Wars movie I realised we all need a Yoda. Yoda, for those who have not embraced the Star Wars movies, is a mentor/guide/wise one to all of the Jedi warriors.
Great leaders know that they must have a Yoda to help them and guide them. Often great leaders surround themselves with people who know what they themselves do not. Many books share stories of great leaders who have monthly mastermind groups, mentor meetings and wise, old friends who offer counsel. What many of those stories leave out is the internal growth these leaders went through, as they were becoming great, so they were able to seek, reach and listen to their Yoda.
For some this ability to seek counsel comes naturally, for others, myself included, we have to go through an internal process of growth to be able to say, “Yoda, teach me.”
The process includes being willing to:
* Be vulnerable – to know you do not know everything
* Trust others – trust that others have your best interest at heart
* Be positive – think positively, act positively and be positive
* Surrender – accept what is not working and do not fight what is being advised, be willing to listen, learn and implement
For Luke Skywalker it took several Star Wars films to reach the level of a great leader. The key of course is to be willing — willing to do whatever is necessary to be ready and then receive the support of your Yoda.
In order to seek a mentor who will be effective, managers and leaders must be honest with their selves and realise that they do not know everything. Moving from one level to the next is like going from your comfortable home, city, state and country to a different country with different customs, languages and expectations.
If you did your homework, read books and spoke to experienced travellers, you would be excited and ready to see the country with your own eyes.
If you did not do your homework you would feel lost, insecure and frustrated. You would probably walk away from the experience exhausted, because you had to work so hard. You might be resentful, because people do not do things the way you want them done. This leads to your negative attitude, due to your frustration during the experience, because you chose not to do your homework, because you didn’t want to admit that you were vulnerable.
If you studied and prepared, you acknowledged that you were vulnerable. You realised that you did not know what to expect, or what the country would be like. You knew that this was a weakness that you needed to overcome.
As a manager and leader you must realise that you do not know everything. You do not know the potential of your next career opportunity, you may not know what senior management thinks and you may not know how relationships are managed at upper levels.
* If you have been passed over for a promotion
* If you are not actively participating in planning your career goals
* If you are focusing energy on trying to figure out the game
You are not taking step one to finding your Yoda; you are not being vulnerable.
To be vulnerable you must be willing to:
* Open yourself to the possibility of growing as a person in your emotional, spiritual, intellectual, fiscal and physical dimensions
* Allow yourself to search and probe the past for hidden or unresolved emotions, feelings, or grief responses that lie at the root of current immobilised emotions, feelings, or actions
* Try out new behaviour traits, attitudes, or beliefs in the pursuit of personal growth
* Have unrelenting pursuit of truth and clarity about self through requesting, encouraging, and welcoming honest feedback about oneself, even if such feedback is negative
* Take chances and try new experiences, challenges, or activities even though the outcome is “unsure”
(From James J. Messina’s article called Becoming Vulnerable)
In the June 1995 issue of Academy of Management Review it states: “Organisational trust [is] the willingness of an employee and employer to be vulnerable, to be open to one another and to take risks for one another.” As a manager and leader you must have the willingness to take risks with your employees and with your superiors.
Risk with your employees:
1. Laugh with them.
2. Ask for feedback about your leadership (one on one).
3. Take a half-day each month to work alongside a person, team or area. You will learn what your staff is experiencing and having difficulty with. You will then be able to find and offer solutions. You will be a team player and admired leader.
Risk with your superiors:
1. Say hello when in the elevator with your CEO, President or other superior. Introduce yourself.
2. Ask your direct supervisor:
a. What do they admire in you?
b. What do they wish you would do more often?
c. What is one behaviour/thought/action, which, if improved or changed, would have a tremendous positive impact on your career?
3. Ask a superior to lunch or breakfast. Ask for their story, how did they get where they are.
Are you willing to take the risk?
Thought of the Month:
“That is why you fail.” — Yoda, Star Wars in response to Luke saying, “I don’t believe it.”
Magazines describe Pegine as one of the top motivational success and leadership experts with business and team building experience! Her teambuilding and motivational programs are experiential, fun and filled with content. Companies use her to motivate people, develop strong leaders & teams, and increase productivity. For more success, leadership and team building information visit her website at www.pegine.com.