After all, to have the guts to develop an idea and take the risk to put it out into the world takes some belief in yourself. You have to believe that what you are doing is beyond worthy and that your ideas are strong enough to survive and thrive. You are smarter, more innovative, and more interesting than the rest of the world, and everyone around tells you so. If you are an entrepreneur like me you are probably nodding your head in agreement. Sounds great right? Wrong? I think you are missing something critical. And no, I’m not talking about advice. I’m talking about…
Now, if you know me, you know that I’m the first person to not take people’s advice, so the above statement may not be a surprise. There is nothing I loath more than the herd mentality. Most often, when you think of mentors, advice giving and providing direction come to mind. You pose a question and they tap their infinite wisdom to provide you with a solution. That’s not how it works for me. For me, the most valuable aspect of having a coach or mentor isn’t the advice—it’s the push back.
It’s easy to get surrounded by yes men that love everything you do. Your ideas are great, your sales approach is perfect, and your marketing is fantastic. Really? Maybe instead of a bunch of yeses you need someone to push your buttons and challenge your thinking. That is what a great mentor can do. I have gotten so angry on calls that I’ve almost hung up. I’ve been so frustrated at lunch sessions that I couldn’t eat. And for that, I say thank you. I learned more about myself and my vision in those moments than in any other. They’ve challenged my ideas about my business model and forced me to think about whether or not I was focusing in on my vision or straying in other directions. They’ve challenged the brilliance of a new idea I was about to launch, only to make it stronger in the end.
One of my best mentors is someone that on many occasions annoys me to no end! Not because he has a high-pitched voice or hugs for too long. He annoys me because he is brash, egotistical, and sometimes very self absorbed. He is also the first person I call for push back because those qualities also mean he will not put up with my you-know-what but will call me out when it’s needed.
My got-your-back partner is the first person I call when I am up in arms about something. In fact, the other day she yelled at me, “You aren’t listening to me.” She was right. I wasn’t getting it.
You may think I’m a glutton for punishment, and maybe I am, but I’ve seen the value of being surrounded by people that love, respect, and challenge me. They’ve helped me and my business grow tremendously.
If you find that someone is always getting under your skin, I suggest reaching out to them for coffee. They are probably the perfect person for you. Go get that person who always challenges your ideas and ask them to do more of it.
It’s counter-intuitive for most people to seek push back, but I promise you, it’s a trait of the most successful entrepreneurs.
Tags: business coaching, business entrepreneur, business mentor, business resources, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, how to be an entrepreneur, imaginibbles, small business advice, small business owner, tamara kleinberg, think sideways book, Think Sideways Playbook, women entrepreneurs