#490  from Innovative Leader Volume 9, Number 9          September 2000

Maximize Your Moments With The Masters
by Dick Biggs

Mr. Biggs is president of Biggs Optimal Living Dynamics in Gainesville, GA, helping organizations boost profits and productivity. Phone 770-886-3035; email biggspeaks@mindspring.com; website biggspeaks.com (no www).  He is author of Maximize Your Moments With the Masters (Self published, 2000).

Mentoring is one-on-one leadership--a pairing of a less experienced person (protegé) with a seasoned master (mentor). And while role modeling and mentoring are often referred to synonymously, the two concepts are vastly different. For example:

• A role model is "a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others." A mentor is "a trusted counselor, tutor or coach."
• Role modeling isn't optional. The question is: Are you setting a positive or negative example? Mentoring is optional. The question is: If you don't get involved, who will?
• You don't choose to be a role model; you're chosen. You must choose to be a mentor.
• When you're a role model, the primary focus is on you. When you're a mentor, the primary focus is on the protégé.
• The time commitment of role modeling is simply the life you lead, with everyone free to observe. The time commitment of mentoring is a personal involvement in the life of a portage.
• As a role model, you say: "Here's a way to live that you might want to emulate." As a mentor, you say: "Here's a way to live that you might want to emulate...and let me share the details of my journey."

In short, mentoring is a way to take role modeling to the next level by teaching a protégé the details of who you are, how you think, what you've done, and why you have something worth pursuing. A master mentor is a person who has hammered out his or her life on the anvil of goodness, wisdom, experience and maturity and is willing to share these lessons with a protégé.

I suggest an annual mentoring program that repeats itself continuously within an organization. For instance, a protégé is paired with a different mentor each year until the protégé is ready to become a mentor. 

Each month, the protégé and mentor meet privately to decide on their action plans. Mentors don't just teach their protégés and hold them accountable.  A mentor should also select, for him/herself, at least one action idea per month and the mentor is held accountable by the protégé. As a result, protégés accelerate their learning curves and mentors further develop their abilities.

I recommend four lifetime benchmarks for all master mentors:

Benchmark 1. "Pursue what is true."
Benchmark 2. "Turn creeds into deeds."
Benchmark 3. "Use congruence to influence."
Benchmark 4. "Collect a deep respect."

The first two benchmarks reveal the mindset of master mentors. The idea is that a protégé should seek a mentor who has high standards and "practices what he or she preaches." The last two benchmarks stress the multiplication of master mentors. A protégé will be most influenced by a mentor who has congruency between his or her beliefs and behaviors, and that such respect will result in a desire to become a mentor and pass on these lessons to other protégés.

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