What do you see when you look at the following?
You can read it in two ways. You either read ‘opportunity is nowhere’ OR ‘opportunity is now here.’
How positive are you in life? Can you see opportunity when anyone else can’t? Can you think about an option when everyone says there is none? The ability to do this separates the good mentors from the best! The good news is, no one was ever born positive or negative, but developed these thinking patterns over time. We can unlearn negative ones and learn how to develop positive ones. And in this email I will show you how!
Before I do that though, let’s spare a thought for your mentee. Your mentee works in a sector that often reaches the mediafor bad performance, not good performance. The Department of Health is often portrayed as incompetent, corrupt and dysfunctional. Our mentees are surrounded with illness and death, and when a baby is born, instead of celebrating a new life, questions about grants for young mothers, HIV, unemployment, etc. steal any joy. You, as their mentor, might be the only positive person your mentee might have at the moment…and that is why you are so significant!
Is it possible to be positive in a country like South Africa? Absolutely yes! You must just learn how to look at things, and as a mentor, learn how to use these tools to lead others. So here are two that you can practice!
Often when something bad happens to us we allow it to affect all areas of our lives. We globalize the event and eternalize it. If you had a flat tire on your way to work, we often say, “it’s a bad day” or “these things always happen to me.” The truth is, that only a part of your day was bad and it is impossible that it always happens to you…31 flat tires a month?
So as a mentor (first doing this for yourself and then for your mentee) it is important that when something bad happens to immediately isolate the incident. What part of the day or event was bad? Be specific and don’t allow it to contaminate any other area of your life. I had a flat tire today which was bad…but people were friendly, work went well and had a great time at home in the evening! Help your mentee to also do this by asking him/her, “what part of your day” or “what is the one thing” that was the worst for you. Just answering these simple questions will help them to isolate negative events.
Then make sure to put a timeline on it! It might be bad now, but this will not last forever. If your car is broken, it is helpful to think for how long you will be taking public transport to work. A good question to ask your mentee is, “how many days (weeks, months, etc) do you think it is going to take before things are back to normal. Develop this skill and you will be amazing.
I started a few years ago playing this silly game…today, thinking in options has become my default thinking. The game goes like this: whenever a person tells me something cannot be done, I will think of two options (ideas) how it can be done. Sometimes the options are not practical and silly, thus I will not even share it, however by just playing the game, one starts to look beyond obstacles and become creative. Before you know it, you will become an option thinker!
A great mentor sees the good in a person before it even exists and can hold the picture up of what is good, in spite of the chaos around them. As a positive influence in your mentee’s life, you are playing a significant role. I know you can do this…I can think of at least two reasons why!