Mentoring: A Confidence Builder

If you want to build your confidence, consider mentoring others.

There’s an old adage that the teacher learns more than the student. In my nearly 15 years as an instructor with the St. Louis Community College and later with University of Missouri-St. Louis, I’ve found that adage to be spot on. Here’s why it’s true and what you’ll gain by being a mentor to others.

Mentoring/teaching wins

You’ll gain:

  • Deeper knowledge of what you already know.
  • Greater awareness of processes you use.
  • Greater precision in your language.
  • Ability to deal with unanticipated questions more quickly and effectively.

Let’s explore each of these in more detail.

Deeper knowledge

Something that still amazes me is how much I learn from organizing my thoughts in order to prepare a presentation. The process requires that I not only craft a logical progression, but that I understand why each element in the process is essential. Absent the need to communicate succinctly, I doubt that I’d ever gain that depth of understanding.

Process awareness

When we discover something that works, we tend to use it again and again until it becomes a habit. With the development of a habit comes the loss of why we do what we do and why it works. Here’s a quick example.

Over the years I did a lot of pricing work with my clients. It wasn’t until I had my book, Pricing For Profit (opens in a new link), published and rebranded my company to focus on pricing that I gained awareness of the process I was using. I needed that awareness to market my new offering effectively.

Once I identified and detailed the 5-step process I’d been using, I generated a lot of interest and excitement about my approach to pricing. As you become more aware of the processes you use in your work, you too will reap the value of communicating your process succinctly.

Precise language

I’ve already alluded to this in the previous wins, as your awareness grows, as you become more clear about what you do and why it works, you become more precise in the language you use to communicate the concepts to others.

The clarity that you communicate enables others to trust you completely and move forward with you more quickly. People embrace clarity and shun vagueness. We’re not wired to follow advice that doesn’t make sense to us…and that’s a good thing.

Dealing with the unexpected

Mentors and teachers alike as often hit with unanticipated questions. These questions open our eyes to new perspectives…opportunities to learn and grow.

They also offer opportunities to admit our vulnerabilities and, in doing so, demonstrate our confidence. For confident people are willing to admit that they don’t know the answer. I can’t tell you how often I’ve said in classes or to clients “I don’t know. If I may, I’m going to think out loud.”

My students and clients were thrilled to hear me admit that I didn’t have an immediate answer, but that I was willing to think out loud so that they and I could work through the question to find an answer together.

The more frequently this happens, the more confident you grow in your ability to find answers to any question that arises. This confidence is genuine and it, once again, earns the trust of all with whom you interact. It also reinforces their perception of you being an honest, genuinely caring individual…which you are.

For you

Emerson said that we cannot strive to help another without helping ourselves. Hopefully this blog post will provide rationale for his sage advice. While I don’t advocate helping others for the benefit I’ll gain, I do want to make you aware that in helping others through mentoring or teaching, you’ll enjoy a richer, fuller life as will those you mentor.

For our kids

Kids are often taught a jaded view of competition…that competition is a win/lose proposition. The reality is that we gain something from every endeavor regardless of the outcome.

Teach your kids that sharing what they know to help another enhances, rather than diminishes their skills and abilities…that they become even more effective when they teach others what they know. Then they too will experience the joy of teaching and the friendships that develop from helping others.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share wisdom in a comment.

Feel free to share this blog with those whom you feel would benefit from this message. It’s an easy way to say “I love you. I’m thinking of you.”

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link).

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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