Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lessons in Mentoring - PJM

Tell Me, Show Me, Let Me, Correct Me - Lessons in Mentoring by Paul J. Meyer

My father told me again and again to never take a job unless I was willing to be mentored. He knew that knowledge was not enough. He knew the value of repetition and mentoring in the learning process, and he modeled that for me from my earliest years. His learning system was simple. He would:
·tell me
·show me
·let me
·correct me
My first bike, for instance, was a junkyard rescue. My dad and I picked it up, brought it home, and took it apart. He patiently showed me how to put it back together - how to fix the brakes, build a gear, and put new spokes on the wheel. That hands-on learning taught me a great deal, but just when I felt I had conquered the bike, he made me take it all apart again. My dad understood that repetition was a powerful ingredient in the learning process. I took that bike apart and put it together so many times that I could have done it with my eyes closed! Sure, I was sometimes frustrated, but I learned.
My dad did the right thing: he provided structure and follow-up, making sure I understood the correct way of doing it from the very start, and then allowed me to repeat the process with his "mentoring." He supervised my practicing until he felt I could do it on my own.
Dad did this with everything in life. I remember when I got my first car - I had to have it towed home! I knew nothing about cars, but dad taught me everything. He taught me the difference between the transmission and the master cylinder, the headers and the exhaust pipes. He taught me what made the car work and how it all fit together. Together we took each piece apart and he'd tell me what it was, show me how it worked and was put together, let me try to do it on my own, and then correct me so that we could begin the process again. Finally, when we had finished and I knew how to put every piece back together, he took it completely apart again, smiled, and said, "Put it together, and it's yours!"
It was a challenge, but I did it and learned a lifelong lesson about learning, "Successful people yearn to learn and have a plan for learning." Unless people have a plan for learning and are motivated to do it right, it isn't very likely that they'll hang in there and do it. My dad created a need and a plan for me with that car, and to this day, one of my saddest memories is the day I joined the military and had to sell that car.
In my own companies, I maintain my dad's learning system with one small change. As I got older, I realized the power of positive reinforcement and praise in the coaching/mentor relationship. My dad was a great teacher, but his correction didn't always involve encouragement. So we've modified it a bit:
·tell me
·show me
·let me
·observe me
·praise my progress and/or redirect me
Having a coach or mentor accentuate the positive as you journey through the learning process is vital to success!
I am who I am today largely because of the lessons I learned from my own father. I understand how to learn and activate that knowledge because my dad modeled that for me. As you seek to grow and learn, remember the power of repetition, the importance of follow-up, and the value of coaching and mentoring.
About Paul J. Meyer
Paul J. Meyer is a New York Times best-selling author and founder of Leadership Management Institute, Inc. and Success Motivation Institute, Inc. He has mastered the power of spaced repetition, using it to grow his businesses and change the lives of countless people. For more resources, and to order Know Can Do, visit the LMI bookstore.