My organization is a member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association. We have invested substantial time and money in our sales teams by bringing in CPSA sales trainers. These training sessions focus on 8 steps of Consultative selling. To work hand in hand with this sales approach we have put our leadership team through the CPSA Coaching Training. The idea is that the leaders meet with their sales teams one on one and coach them through their sales journey for that week. It’s an opportunity to mentor our people by coaching them through the wins and losses that every sales professional goes through. It’s been a great experience for me and I believe we are seeing some positive results in our business because of this close working relationship our sales teams and leaders have.
Yesterday I found myself using my coaching and mentoring experience with my oldest son. My son is 10 years old and like most this age, practicing anything is the worst way to spend your time. Even if he was bored out of his mind practicing anything still wouldn’t enter into his mind. He is fortunate to have some very real and natural music ability. Not even a year ago I watched as he, then 9 years old, played “Hey Jude” on the drums with a live band in front of 500 people. He did an incredible job and he felt proud. Now, an evening before his recital, I can hear my son practicing the piece he chose. He played the Star Wars theme through once and it was barely recognizable. I asked him if he was really trying his best. He answered in typical 10 year old fashion, “I guess.” I then asked him if he really felt like he was prepared for his recital. Again he answered with a noncommittal “I guess.”
The next day I rushed to my son’s music festival after a few meetings went long compounding an already tight schedule. My wife and I showed up at the same time and quickly found a seat in the front row. We believe being present and a part of their lives is key to mentoring them, plus we are just super proud parents. The festival started and eventually we got to our son’s grouping. The first young lady came out and played a nearly flawless song. It wasn’t as technical as the Star Wars theme but it was done with excellence. As she exited the stage, my son walked on, placed his music down and started into his piece. It was sloppy. We waited for the last performance to be over so we could hear the adjudicator grade each performance. Without surprise, the first young lady received first place. My son received second.
He walked off the stage obviously embarrassed and upset. I followed him into the bathroom stall where he hid and cried. I asked him again if he felt like he did his best. He couldn’t answer. He was emotional and I had to get back to work so I hugged him, told him I loved him and that we would talk soon. As his dad I was frustrated with him. He didn’t try very hard and put very little effort into it. All of his embarrassment, shame and tears would have been prevented if he only would have tried harder. I needed to step back a bit as his dad, coach and mentor so I could guide him properly through this tough situation without letting my frustration show.
Traffic was bad on the way home and I had a board meeting to attend early in the evening so I decided to call my son. He came to the phone and I asked him how he was doing. He was still embarrassed, sad and frustrated. I started off by telling him how amazing I believe he is. I explained to him that he is so talented naturally and that he is great with people. I told him several times that if he works hard, listens to his teachers, spends time practicing and learning he can do anything he wants to. I believe this to be true. I told him that I have felt the same as him and that it took me a while to learn that natural ability is only one piece of the success puzzle. My son is a huge NFL fan so I referenced his favourite receiver Julio Jones. I asked him if he thought Julio was one of the best receivers in the NFL by never practicing or working hard. My son understood what I was saying. I told him that if he wants to see different results he needs to have a different approach. I confirmed that he could be a show stopper if he puts effort into learning and practicing his crafts. I ended our conversation by affirming his amazing ability and heart. I told him I loved him and am proud of him and promised that if he worked hard he would be one of the best in whatever arena he chooses to stand in.
Mentoring and coaching is an investment. It’s an investment in time, relationship and trust. If you’re willing to put in the time and build trust and relationships, you’ll find that it’s not only your son or team member that is mentored by the process but yourself also. I was reminded yesterday that as a leader I cannot just rely on my natural ability or charm. Success comes from hard work. When I arrived home my son was practicing his drums. He’s coming up to another performance in front of a packed house. I promised him if he worked hard he would have the crowd saying, “That kid is only 10?”. He took our conversation to heart and immediately implemented a new practice routine. I believe that any success I have had is because mentors and coaches have taken the time to invest into my life. Their belief in me combined with their experience coached, guided and helped me succeed. Are you struggling to be where you think you could be? Find a mentor and coach that can help you get to the next level. Do you have people on your team that aren’t performing to the levels you think they can? Mentor and coach them. The investment in the people you lead will take your team, organization or kids to levels you’ve only dreamed about.