Dave has an interesting post at WizSpeak called Imaginary Counsel with his solution to choosing good mentors.
2011 Update: I have removed the links which were in the previous sentence because they seem to be gone. However you can find Dave’s current blog here: Rothacker Reviews. His Ho‘ohana is as strong as ever!
It reminded me of an exercise written up in Soar with Your Strengths about reflecting on your Personal Board of Directors (page 128 if you have the paperback).
Closer to home and more recently, it reminded me of yesterday afternoon. Multi-tasking at its finest:
I’m sitting in a comfortable canvas slingback chair, out in the Hawaiian sun, overlooking the Konawaena ballpark where my son’s team is playing baseball in a high school pre-season tournament. In between innings and tourney game breaks I’m finishing my reading of Marcus Buckingham’s new book, and writing pages and pages in a legal pad about whatever pops in my head. My husband is there with me, but sitting next to him is another dad, and so of course they are having the verbal warfare of armchair quarterbacks (what do you call guys like that in baseball?) and so as far as he’s concerned, I’m not even there. My son hits a triple, Marcus Buckingham says something profound, I write in a flash of inspiration. The afternoon is my short taste of pure bliss.
At one point my husband looks over at me and says, “Who are you talking to?”
“Your lips are moving, and there’s no sound coming out, but you have this look on your face like you’re having a conversation with someone.”
And I was. I was talking to Marcus Buckingham about something I just read in his book. He doesn’t know it, and I’ve never met the man, but he’s become somewhat of a mentor for me because I love the way he thinks. However at this point I’ve read virtually everything he’s written, I’ve heard him speak, I’ve read his interviews, and I’m now brave enough to debate him — even if it’s in my own head.
I have discovered how very powerful self-talk is, and I’ve learned to use it well. It’s also great for coaching — I teach others how to actually do it to their benefit. It’s great for managing: I coach managers to actually see when their employees are caught up in positive versus negative self-talk as an exercise in building a) their empathy, and b) their skill in intercepting those coaching opportunities they can have with their own staff.
Here’s a tip for you: the best place to actually see this happening for people is when you’re conducting a meeting and they are reacting to what you’ve said. This is something I love about giving my speeches to smaller groups and conducting trainings: People have this false sense of invisibility when they are in an audience, and they have no idea how much non-verbal feedback they are giving me. And I’m not shy about swooping in, “Okay, I see those wheels turning, talk to me: Don’t take and accept what I just said at face value, talk to me. Tell me what you’re thinking.”
Muses, mentors, and self-talk: Great tools, all three of them. Be sure you use them.