I was struggling at work for quite some time several years back. Not that I was challenged or facing problems in my office, it was the opposite. I was unchallenged and struggling to find purpose and meaning in my work. I worked with some great people and had an excellent team, yet I was unsatisfied. My father asked me a simple question followed by simple advice. What is it you like to do at work. Once you know, then do that as much as you can. It was almost too easy.
Well, I knew I liked to mentor and teach, and I seemed to naturally gravitate to these aspects of my job – not that I was amazing at it, but I enjoyed it. I wanted to have a more significant impact on my team, and most of them could care less how great my PowerPoint looked or how many meetings I held. But motivating and educating, if done right, could last a lifetime. I remember my mentors and great teachers for their encouragement and inspiration more than I remember most of what they taught.
So… Why is it so important?
Mentoring is probably one of the most important things a leader can do. Why? Because this is how you build leaders and prepare them to lead others in a positive and meaningful way. Mentoring others is (can) be easy too. It starts with setting a good example. Remember, people are always watching. Mentoring is a process. It takes time and commitment from the mentor and mentee. Both will benefit from the relationship.
Once I grasped the idea of mentoring and teaching in the workplace, I began doing just that. I shifted my time and efforts from “doing the work” to strategy development, mentoring others, and teaching them different aspects of their job and mine. Teaching them my role and responsibility ensured that, if I left for any reason – transferred, quit, promoted, or anything else – that they would be able to continue succeeding (no single point of failure in my organization). I had already been doing these things, but my energy shifted from “the work” to these other aspects – I went from spending 25% of my time teaching and mentoring to 75%. The results were amazing. Productivity increased within my team greatly, they were more engaged and energized, and I began enjoying my work again.
After some time, I felt I was almost no longer needed. My team had a firm grasp on their duties and were taking on new challenges. I began focusing more energy on strategizing for my organization, taking on new roles and responsibilities, and becoming the “catch-all” for additional duties. It was quite interesting and gave me a whole new perspective on how the organization ran. However, my joy started to diminish as I was doing less mentoring and teaching, and more “other” stuff. I needed to get back to where my heart longed. The problem is, I didn't have anywhere to go. Promotions were unavailable, positions were already filled, and I was somewhat stuck in the position I was in – somewhat mentoring and teaching others what I had learned over the years, and doing the “catch-all” work. It wasn’t bad, just not fulfilling.
What does this mean for you?
As you go to work each day or work on your business, find what you love the most and do that. Sure, you will have to do other tasks that are less fulfilling – they just need to get done – but ensure you spend enough time doing what you love in order to be completely engaged and satisfied. If you are struggling to find your love in your work, perhaps you need to re-think what or how it is you are doing (it). You can find a new job. Do what you love for your business focus. Find your love and embrace it. The adage goes, if you love what you do (for a living), you will never work a day in your life.
To learn more about coaching, check out our mentoring blog posts below.
What is a Mentor?
Award Winning Mentorship
How to Make the Most Out of Your Mentor/Mentee Relationship
Until next time…