Finding the Guru Within

“While we teach, we learn”
- Seneca

One of the greatest gifts you can offer another is unconditional, open sharing of ideas and wisdom to grow their ideas and talents. Everyone benefits, not only obviously the person receiving advice and direction from a trusted mentor, but also the coach himself benefits greatly from the experience.

When you take the time to seek out a talented coach, ask for advice, and aspire to a particular habit, behavior, or way of life, you can better:

  • Figure out what matters to you and your growth to make an impact
  • Amplify your focus by removing lesser priorities
  • Connect with people and ideas more closely aligned
  • Identify and remove blind spots

Yet even more powerfully, when you take the time to show up and offer your own thoughtful advice, energy and direction, the impact can be surprisingly valuable for you, the advisor. Consider, if you can teach something you first have to learn it deeply enough to share it in a meaningful and clearly articulate way. In order to teach something as an effective and credible advisor, you also need to deepen your knowledge and understanding such that you can handle penetrating questions, and know where to find answers. If someone you are working with develops a greater curiosity, you should know where to direct their next inquiry.

The best coaches develop a deep emotional fluency such that they have strong understanding of their player’s strengths. John Wooden, one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time, coached so personally and directly that he spoke, on average, for only four seconds at a time, and most often only to individual players.  In the movie “The Blind Side,” Sandra Bullock’s character draws out the best football player in Big Mike by reinforcing the fact that he scored 98% on “protective instincts.”

The etymology of guru is “teacher” or “master.”  Guru has also come to mean “one who dispels the darkness of ignorance.”  I had a wonderful interview Monday with Dr. Sujaya Banerjee, Chief Learning Officer for Essar Group, one of the fastest growing companies in India.

Essar has developed a remarkably successful coaching and mentoring program by appealing to cultural influences. Indians believe in rebirth and the cyclical nature of life.  Which means aspiring toward being immortal, becoming “amar” in Hindi.  The philosophy of mentoring at Essar teaches that a way to become immortal is to coach and mentor.  Senior executives and managers are encouraged to develop their immortal self through developing the wise guru within another, younger associate. By tapping into this intrinsic motivation to build an eternal legacy of wisdom, executives see clearly they have a path to create a legacy, and preserve their own immortal wisdom through others.

Share your gifts without pause or regret.  I once wrote a rap to introduce Keith Ferrazzi, based on his book Never Eat Alone.  You can read the bit in the rap about mentoring below or see the video here.

But before you focus on improving your standard of living
Remember you earn trust and proximity first by giving
With a big head you’ll think you turn everything to gold
Be careful in your success, don’t let hubris take hold
Your final task should you choose to accept
Is share this wonderful gift, without pause or regret
For if its true legacy you want to approach
Teach and share, become a mentor, a coach
People in the house
Open up your hearts and minds, there is nothing to fear
To deliver this message Keith Ferrazzi is here

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