How to achieve work/life balance with a mentor
I’ve read that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in any given subject or skill. I’ve also been guilty of reading ‘life hacks’ and googling for solutions to complex problems. As a busy full-time working professional, mother, wife, homemaker, and terrible ‘chef’, the idea of spending 10,000 hours on more than one subject or skill intimidates me. The average working professional works about 2,600 hours in a year (50-hour average work week). That means, it’s 3.8 years before I achieve mastery in my goal as long as nothing changes along the way. My day is full of many complex tasks and requirements, often quite diverse. I need to leverage multiple pieces of software at an advanced level to do my job. Software such as Saleforce.com, Pardot, Clicktools, Conga, Microsoft Office, social media and I’m not sure if 10,000 hours will even get me to the point of understanding Twitter. In addition to the basic pieces of software that enable me to do my job, I also need to effectively lead a team. I need understand their jobs well enough to provide answers to questions and guidance on challenges. If I want to really move the needle on the goals our company has set forth, I need enough time and energy to be creative, strategic, influential. And then I’m tired and start thinking about life hacks. Mentoring being one of them.
When a challenge arises, I often think I need to call my mentor. It’s not a crutch, but it’s a way to accelerate my effectiveness while minimizing my failed attempts. I do appreciate learning by failure as those lessons often stick with me more than the successes, but lessons taught from a mentor are often recalled just as quickly and more so than other learning mechanisms I’ve tried. I know, I’ve googled ‘Quantitative Easing’ more than once and I still can’t tell you how it works. What does ‘stick’ are lessons learned from my mentor, lessons obtained by failed attempts, and key points of some of my successes.
So, what makes a good mentor? Storytelling, listening, critical questioning and life experience are the few factors I seek out. Story telling makes the lessons taught ‘sticky’. Real life experience with a scenario or challenge gives credibility to the proposed solution and often a solution isn’t even part of the equation. Experience often allows the mentor to ask the right questions to get you to your own solution versus hoping a Google search page offers you the right answer.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I still rely too heavily on Google, but I try to minimize my reliance on search engines to just the basics versus the meaty stuff. When do I know the difference? When I start typing, ‘how to deal with…’, I stop typing and pick up the phone instead.
You can sample the knowledge of our mentors in Menttium’s recently published book: Unlocking Potential: How Mentors Make a Difference.