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Pushing the mentorship into consultancy

teacherOver a year ago when I started talking about the importance of mentorship in this industry, I was met with some rather stern resistance and opposition.  Most, if not all was due to the misunderstanding of those leaders, teachers and experts that felt that I was implying that they should offer their paid services for free.  Not at all.  The conversation went on for a couple months and one by one these leaders started to understand that mentorship not only benefits the person you are mentoring but it raises the bar in the industry.  Many of those that misunderstood the mentorship ideology had in fact, been mentoring on one level of the other already, but the thought of actively doing it under some guise of an active program sounded like teaching their wares for FREE.  Not so.

Today, just about every post, comment or otherwise has the word “Mentor” in it.  Many of the leaders in this industry have proteges that they have vested personal interest in their growth and success in the CRAFT.  They task them with duties in the industry that actually help them understand the industry’s nuts and bolts and in turn allows them to accomplish responsibilities without having to pay them.  That is a relationship with historical precedence.  Usually the expert sees something in that person that reminds him/her of themselves.

I am seeing starting to see a couple things happen now.  The first is that specialists are using the word haphazardly.  Just because you have an open dialogue with someone and are able to call them and get advice is NOT a mentorship relationship.  You just have an accommodating individual that is willing to help.  I will say this AGAIN, a mentoship is an ACTIVE relationship that is navigated by the mentor.  Once you have that agreement in hand then the occasional phone call solidifies what you already have in existence.  The second and most concerning to me is that now there are phone calls and posts etc where specialists are asking for help on tasks or services that they have stated they can do for someone, already knowing that they are not trained to do.  As Raffaele Di Giorgio states over and over, “Deliver as advertised.”  The specialist then goes to a leader/expert and asks advice on how to fulfill the bill of goods that he/she has stated they could do.  This cuts straight through mentorship or advise and lands clearly into the services division of the business.  If you cannot deliver the goods and ask us to hand walk you through the process, we are doing the work you promised.  It’s time to talk billable rates.  I do not know a nicer way to say stop promising or portraying your expertise more than it is JUST because you have access to someone that can deliver as YOU advertised unless you are clear with that client upfront.

Mentorships are guided by the mentor and not the recipient.  We do this on our time and most of us can honestly only actively mentor 2-3 people at a time.  If you are calling yourself a mentor and you are seriously managing more that amount, you need to reassess how much real active mentoring you are doing.  For instance, to date I am “ACTIVELY” mentoring one person – Michael Brown on a specific competency in the CRAFT.  It didn’t start off well for him and he got to see the other side of me.  Why? Because I have invested my time in order to do this and if you sign on I expect you to do so as well.  He eventually recovered and began the program.  There were some hurdles, slips and falls but I can truly say that he understand the relationship now and has developed a better understanding of the area we are working on.  I can honestly say that when he is finished he will be THAT go-to guy in his network in this specific competency.  The only charge was my time, dictated by ME and my availability.  We interact 3-4 times a week and sometimes 3-4 times a day.  There is no way you can do more than 3 of these and still run a business or work details as a specialist,

Everyone you look up to does not buy into mentorship and as I have seen this idea grow in strength, I can honestly say it is not for everyone.  That’s not a bad thing but an honest reality.  So, if what you call mentoring does not mirror in some way what I have described you need to start using the word advisor.  Too many are loosely using the word as a form of accreditation for themselves by saying, “My mentor so-and-so helped me do this and that.”  You are in essence using the experts name as a USDA stamp of approval.

Lastly, if you are asking someone to walk you through a process that you are alien to, talk billable hours and then you’ll get what you want.  I will close with this last statement.  There are conversations in the periphery about whether selling tutelage and experiences is improper or unfair and should be under the umbrella of mentoring.  I totally disagree.  If you really believe that then host your next course for free and then we can talk.

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