Here’s Why You NEED A Mentor!

Waaaaay back in the year 2000, I was a partner in a small building firm. It was me – the carpenter, and my mate, Jon, who was a bricklayer and plasterer.

The two trades complimented each other nicely.

He built walls, I fitted windows and door frames.

He plastered walls, I fixed skirting boards and architraves.

We decided to expand and so we took on a couple of apprentices and moved to a bigger workshop.

I was also a workshop carpenter making doors and windows, and so at the time I also had a lot of big heavy woodworking machinery so we needed more than just a storage unit.

We moved from the old workshop into the new workshop which unfortunately didn’t have an office for us to do the paperwork side of the business.

Jon decided that it would be a good idea to get the two apprentices to build the office using stud framing and plasterboard… without a plan to work to… or showing them how to do it.

He believed that it would be good for them to be thrown into the deep end and engage in some problem solving and figure out what to do themselves.

I disagreed with the idea because the two apprentices were wet-behind-the-ears straight out of school, and had absolutely zero knowledge or experience in the building of stud walls.

They didn’t know:

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  • How high the office needed to be.
  • How wide and long the office needed to be.
  • How many studs were needed per plasterboard.
  • How far apart the studs needed to be.
  • Which way the plasterboards needed to be fixed to the studs.
  • That the plasterboard needed to be staggered.
  • Where the door frame needed to be.
  • Where the window needed to be. 
  • The size of the window.
  • How high the window needed to be from the floor.

They knew absolutely nothing about how to build the office.

They were expected to make decisions on something that they couldn’t envisage, or have any previous information to work with.

And because they personally didn’t want or need an office, making decisions was always going to be hard because they had no preference of where anything was to go. 

It was going to result in them having a strop and walking away. 

I told Jon that they would have a meltdown… and after repeatedly asking for help and guidance which Jon declined… that is what happened.

They downed tools and walked out of the workshop.

It was impossible for them to know what to do without any guidance.

Even if they did manage to build a rudimentary office, it would be wrong in so many ways.

I am not belittling their ability to problem-solve or make decisions, particularly, I am saying that if you have no prior knowledge or experience in something, it is highly likely that you will do things wrong… which is a waste of everyone’s time.

If they build the office wrong then they have wasted their time as they will need to re-do it, and Jon and I would have wasted our time having to tell them that it was wrong. 

And unless we actually showed them what to do… this could be an ongoing cycle of timewasting.

It certainly wouldn’t help nurture the relationship between them and us bosses.

If I remember rightly, Jon left the workshop and I set about showing them what to do, and between the two of them with my guidance, they built the office we wanted.

All it needed was for one of us to watch over them and tell them what to do, to answer any questions they had, and to correct them when they were going slightly ‘off piste’.

Mentoring isn’t about charging people a large fee to teach them something that they could learn elsewhere for less money, it is about being on hand to answer any questions they have, to point out where they are going wrong, and to encourage and guide them every step of the way.

You really cannot underestimate the power of real interaction with someone who knows what they are talking about.

The encouragement and advice is worth the price alone.

People who are trying to ‘build’ an online business on the side from their back bedroom really need the emotional support, encouragement, and guidance from someone who has done it before them.

Partners may be understanding and encouraging to a degree, but they can only really cheer you on from the sidelines as an observer.

Yes, it is good to have a supportive partner – it is far better than having a partner who is negative and insists that you stop and ‘do something proper’ instead – but it can never be as good as being mentored by someone who understands what it is that you are actually doing and want to achieve.

What do you say?

Until next time.

Have a great day.


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