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Wed 15 July 2020
How does one define leadership? In many ways it is a concept that is difficult to define. Difficult to understand. Difficult to execute. And difficult to replicate. Consider how many books, articles, seminars, and case studies have been offered over the decades – not to mention the ability to earn a PhD in Leadership! As such, leadership comes in many models often formed by personal experiences and successes and failures of others.

At the fundamental level, at least in business, leadership can be defined as simply making better decisions than your competition. How does one develop this capability? An executive noted, “Make a lot of bad decisions that don’t kill you.” It is true that one’s experience is, in many cases, a result of trial and error and observation of others. Unfortunately, experience alone is no panacea; thus, a leader must be aware of their blind spots and recognition – or lack thereof – becomes more critical as one moves up the corporate ladder.

Blind spots represent an unrecognized weakness or hazard that has the potential to undercut a leader’s success. Blind spots can be found on numerous levels: how you view yourself and your impact on others, the strengths and weaknesses of your team and organization, and the forces operating in the markets in which you compete. Fortunately, blind spots can be identified and managed if one looks for them. Given such, carefully select valued sounding boards who push you, question you, and assist you in recognizing the areas that may undermine your success and that of your organization. 

Programs such as those offered by Ambition In Motion can illuminate leadership blind spots. This is vital as blind spots are not just cases of failing to see ourselves or our actions accurately. They are evident in the way we view our teams, organizations, and markets. 

Executives and senior leaders, get started today: https://rb.gy/5luuqj 



Wed 8 July 2020
Successful companies hold candid conversations, explore areas of innovation, and refine strategy on a regular cadence. Why not you?

In the last month, have you asked yourself: Who you are and what you have? What you do? Who do you help? How you help? How they know you and how you deliver? How you interact? Who helps you? What you get? And what you give? If yes, that is great! If not, it is a great time to start!

Let’s focus on: Who you are? This core area encompasses three topics: interests, personality, and personal skills and abilities. 

Your engagement and overall satisfaction, whether at home or at work, is directly linked to your interest in the things you do. This is slightly different than one’s passion as it is focused more on a micro level. 

Your personality is undoubtedly the staple of: Who you are? However, this is far greater than the typical responses of: I’m an introvert. I enjoy being around others. Your personality in essence is a combination of DNA + life experiences. It represents your strengths, your weakness, your blind spots, your preferred work and life environments, and your competencies.

Your skills and abilities are shaped by life (or learned) experiences. Further, this area is the most flexible of the three (3) areas. Skills can be learned, lost, or refined. Abilities, on the other hand, are less elastic. Think about numerical reasoning or critical reading and writing. Certainly one can improve in those areas but those themes, and others, are often embedded intrinsically. 

You will notice that: Who you are and what you have? is the first in a series of important questions to fully understand yourself and provides a trajectory towards personal optimization. 

It is critical to start this journey with a sound, valued partner – a mentor or one who can hold the mirror and ask targeted questions as you reflect. Mentors come in all different ‘sizes and shapes.’ Colleagues. Family members. Book authors. Business partners. Ambition In Motion's Horizontal Mentoring program offers a new, fresh approach to the mentor-mentee relationship. Rather than the traditional top-down approach, Ambition In Motion’s methodology is based on the science of work orientation allowing for deep, horizontal relationships to form. Think about an engineer paired with a marketing manager or a customer service representative matched with an IT analyst. Imagine how these interesting combinations could jolt your insight not only within your organization but within yourself. 
Wed 1 July 2020
My dad started in the limestone industry in Bloomington, IN when he was 19. After some stops at a few
different companies, he landed as a draftsman for the company he worked for, ended up owning, and
eventually sold some 35 years later. He has been my most consistent mentor to date, as parents tend to
be. However, a decade into my career, my path already has looked vastly different than his. Far from the
straight line, that he experienced, and we are often told to expect. The best laid scheme’s o’ mice an’
men, as Burns would say.

But through this horizontal mentorship program and speaking with my mentor partner, I have learned
that the straight career path is not the norm. It is very uncommon now. Which honestly does not
surprise me too much, that it describes my dad’s experience. My dad hates change. He and my mom still
live in the house they bought the month I was born, almost 36 years later.

The path we take is uniquely ours. And sometimes we stumble into a position or field that we never
thought we would enjoy, or even have a passion for. That was me with finance. It was a long path that
lead me into this field. But it started and ended with teaching. I still have a little bit of the stubborn
resistance to change that I get from my dad, but I am learning not be afraid of an opportunity that
presents a new challenge. I have a plan for where I am now and where I want to go, but I have Burns’
quote from To a Mouse reminding me to embrace the change.

Until next time.

-Chip
Tue 30 June 2020
Although I was very excited to begin this program, I can say that there was a certain degree of skepticism and apprehension when it came to meeting my Peer-Mentor for our first 1-on-1 session.   Not only are we from two different organizations, and two different work environments, but honestly from two different fields.  My career has largely been focused on Training/Development, with a strong tie to the HR field, while my Peer-Mentor has had a long career in HR Management.

To say that our initial meeting/work session was a success would be an understatement.  We were able to connect on multiple topics and the communication was very fluid and relaxed.  I truly believe that we will both value significantly from this networking opportunity and I look forward to our next few sessions.
Wed 24 June 2020
I recently joined an executive peer mentoring initiative led by Ambition In Motion (https://ambition-in-motion.com). A big part of the reason is that my coaching practice, (www.coachfortomorrow.com) is continuing to expand in leadership development, career development and management, and career transition. I’m now also part of another new initiative, Culture Fit 20/20 (https://culturefit2020.com), and I’m extremely interested in views from an HR executive’s desk on employee well-being, engagement, training and development.
 
What intrigues me about the mentoring focus is how the AIM team did a “work orientation” assessment as a key basis for pairing me with another leader, Geoff McCuen. We’ve been introduced, met again, and have discovered that we’re really closely aligned in our outlook on life and career. We each share a sense that the calling or purpose behind what we do as a career or job, is critical. So we’re both excited to be speaking together, and affirming of AIM’s process in connecting the two of us. A part of this was the power of story – the types of questions we asked each other nudged us to be open and authentic. As part of articulating the “why” behind what I do, I found myself remembering key people and conversations en-route to my deciding on coaching as my next career.
 
Another facet of this is the notion of “peer mentoring”. Most of us probably equate a mentor as a more senior, more skilled, more experienced sage, giving the benefit of his or her experience and wisdom to a younger, developing professional. Our thinking is shaped by centuries of tradition (the development of novice-apprentice-journeyman from the guilds of the middle ages) to the more recent Jedi Master-Padawan apprentice from the Star Wars franchise. I remember realizing with a shock years ago that I was no longer the “new guy” at IBM but had become one of the “veterans”.
 
But why not “peer” mentoring? One way to look at this could be “networking on steroids”. Or, think of this quote from the book of Proverbs - “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Each of us can both add value and perspective to another, and learn from the other.
 
Looking forward to our next conversations!
Wed 17 June 2020
One of the most exciting things that I did in the Navy was to get our ship “underway”.   That’s when we “cast off all lines” and push (or get pulled) away from the pier.   Whether we were headed across the globe or just out for a day or two of exercises, it marked the beginning of a journey, of an adventure.  Last week we got “underway” with our new HR Mentoring adventure when Garrett introduced us to our mentors, our “shipmates”. 

I was very pleased to meet my mentor, Mike Johnson, and learn about his background and his current role. We were both a little surprised by the results of our Work Orientation, and not totally sure of the methodology that paired us up (yes, he does provide a written explanation).  However, the more we’ve shared with each other, the more excited about where our relationship may take us.

It took us very little time to warm up and open up.  After the first official meeting we already started to peel back the onion and share a few things about our plans and dreams for the future.  It was sort of freeing to share some of my thoughts that I had not shared with anyone before.   Having Mike listen and then respond without negativity or judgement was really encouraging.  It already made me more excited to see where our path would lead us.

I’ve also been impressed with the materials that Garrett has put together.   The website is clean and easy to navigate.  He has well organized materials and provided a nice meeting guide to help us get started. 

We were asked what was something that we learned from our mentor this month and I think the thing I learned from Mike this week is that when you have a sense of your purpose, or your calling, it is very exciting and energizing.  Hearing him tell his story and talk about his “why”, it’s clear that he is in his sweet spot.   I can’t wait to see what next month brings.




Wed 10 June 2020
Ambition in Motion’s mentor program is different than anything I’ve ever heard of. When I think of a mentor, I think of someone who is older and wiser and honestly, really hard to find. AIM has flipped that on its head. They made everything super easy by matching me with someone via an assessment and algorithm. They also match you with peers that have a similar career orientation, which is way less intimidating than some kind of in-person process. It’s comforting to know that you and your mentor will automatically have some things in common, even before you get started. You also know that they’re eager to learn and grow as well. 
 
In our first meeting, we talked about our backgrounds and even though our roles are different, our paths were certainly not. My mentor has a degree in Music and I have one in IT, now we’re both in Human Resource and Training Roles. The stories of how we got there are long and varied, but now we enjoy what we do. We also both used to work in different roles at our current employers, which gives us a unique perspective on not only our current workforce, but also gives us more in common and builds trust.
 
Speaking of starting in different roles, even within our own companies, we were able to transition into new positions that aligned more with our passions. I started out as a Project Manager that helped with recruiting on the side and my mentor was a Financial Advisor that really mastered the process so well that they wanted him to train everyone else! Any chance to learn something new is a chance for growth and, if nothing else, a resume builder.
 
We also learned that it’s not so uncommon to have many extraneous roles and responsibilities in addition to our core job duties. I have lots of non-HR related responsibilities like IT Support and Facilities Management and my mentor is responsible for Social Media content as well. We could choose to see these as busy work or unnecessary tasks, but we’ve both chosen to frame them as opportunities. Never say no to an opportunity if you can manage it.


Wed 3 June 2020
Imagine that you and a colleague with similar qualifications and backgrounds started working at a company around the same time.  You watch that colleague ascend the corporate ladder at lightning speed while you remain stuck in the same position, struggling to gain recognition and promotion for your efforts.  You’ve tried various tactics, all to no avail.  In a moment of frustration, you ask yourself, ‘What does this person have that I don’t?”  It’s not skills or knowledge, and it’s certainly not a lack of trying on your part.  But there’s something that sets them apart from you and other employees.  How do I know this?  Because I was in the same predicament, and I asked myself this question.  When I saw a fellow employee obtain his dream job, I took the initiative to ask how he did it.  To my surprise, it wasn’t his stellar resume or career accolades.  He had a mentor guiding him along the way.  

Mentors are not just applicable in the corporate or professional environment.  When you consider the education to workforce pipeline, mentors are equally critical during one’s learning years.  As a new doctoral student, I had an inkling of the challenge that awaited me when I experienced the never-ending cycle of writing and editing assignments in my very first class.  I discovered a life line in connecting with dissertation students and recent graduates.  They shared their tales of woes as well as victories.  This small group gave me a sense of community, and if they could do it, so could I with the proper guidance.  From among them, my mentor emerged – a dissertation student with the same major – and it was a match made in heaven!

The path to success is never traveled alone.  It is marked by instrumental relationships, connections, and perhaps, most importantly, a mentor.  What if I told you that instead of admiring the great accomplishments of someone else, you could experience shining moments of own with the help of a mentor?  A mentor is someone who has already arrived where you are trying to go.  He or she has experienced and successfully navigated the challenges and obstacles that you may encounter along your journey.  What better treasure than if they could share their experiences and expertise?  

Think of a mentor as your coach and professional partner.  This is someone who wants to see you succeed, has your best interests at heart, and understands the road you are traveling.  While you are responsible for putting forth the effort, a mentor wants to help you reach your destination.  The mentor is here to help you with several things: accountability, insight, pathways, and motivation.  What many don’t realize is that the mentor-mentee relationship is mutually beneficial.  There is a well-known adage that says, “iron sharpens iron.”  The mentor delivers feedback that shapes the mentee into a stronger, purpose-driven professional.  Throughout this process, the mentor is challenged in thought, creativity, and capability in ways that might not occur outside of this relationship.  There is also the intrinsic satisfaction of helping others in a meaningful way.  One person cannot influence every other person in the world.  However, a single mentor has the capacity to plant seeds among individuals and communities and watch those fruits blossom and multiply.  This is the power of mentorship.  If more people would become mentors to others, the impact would be phenomenal and far-reaching. 
Wed 27 May 2020
I am extremely happy with my decision to become a professional mentor via Ambition In Motion. I was able to connect with my mentee and form a genuine, close relationship which I am certain will continue into the future. Through my experience as a mentor, I have been able to discover what makes a professional mentor-mentee relationship truly impactful. 

It is one thing to simply ask a mentee about their goals, but another thing to get to know them on a personal and professional level, finding out what their long-term career dreams are, and working with them to outline a plan that helps them achieve their goals allows for a better, more personalized mentorship experience with more accurate goals that can be achieved. 

It has been demonstrated that you can absolutely achieve goals and develop a cordial relationship by strictly talking business. On the other hand, I have found, in my experience, that taking the time to learn more about your mentee, getting to know their personal and professional backgrounds, asking them what is going on in their life, and being interested in them as a friend, fosters a sense of trust and allows for a deeper connection that will enrich you both as a mentor/mentee, and as an individual. 

This was not only a positive experience for my mentee to gain some guidance and perspective on their professional endeavors, but was also an opportunity for me to grow not only as a mentor, but also as a professional. One of my favorite quotes is: “when you aren’t learning and growing, you aren’t living.” This quote applies so well to this situation. In life, we should all strive to never stop learning, growing, and improving ourselves. Being a mentor has given me the chance to grow by spreading my own wings and becoming introspective on the experiences I have had and the lessons that I have learned. I have also been able to learn from my mentee, which was a valuable part of this whole experience. Even though my role was to be a source of advice and guidance for my mentee, my mentee had other valuable life and work experiences that I was able to learn from and apply to my own life and career. 
This “give and take” was a pleasant surprise and added benefit of this already beneficial program. 

If asked to participate as a professional mentor again, I plan to participate again with absolute certainty. I am so thankful for this chance to help someone grow, and for myself to grow as well. 
Wed 20 May 2020
In the business world there is a difference between what outsiders or customers believe about the internal operations of a company and how employees view the reality of how things actually operate. I believe knowing who actually makes the decisions, upper management expectations, and what characteristics promote upward mobility in a particular company, are the things that make a mentor invaluable. Mentors can see where you fit in best and where you need improvement. They are able see attributes as well as faults that we may not see or be willing to admit. Mentors are those who are there to provide the truth and not worry about padding your ego; this is all to make mentees better. 

I believe my career would have progressed much differently and faster if I had the benefit of a mentor. I learned the unsaid protocols and the importance of making contacts, and how you deal with individuals the hard way. I later learned that sometimes who you know is just as, or more important, than what you know in some industries. I also learned over time that the way you communicate with people varies by the individual. Personalities vary; therefore, your approach toward each person may also need to vary. This is true for peers as well as for supervisors. These are known as soft-skills, which also include decision-making and networking. I wish I had someone to fill those gaps during the beginning of my career. I later met others who had mentors, or influential individuals, during their career and every response seemed to be similar. They all believed their mentors, or influencers, had a major impact on the success of their careers. 

Here is an example of when I wished I had a mentor. I was working at my agency headquarters and I knew I wanted to get promoted to a position outside of headquarters. I thought all I needed to do was work hard and create quality programs. I eventually found out that I needed to go beyond this by improving my networking skills within the building and within the outer offices. I needed to be known by the “right” people and have a good reputation among those same individuals. I learned you have to have  allies among the decision-makers to get anywhere within my organization. If I had known this earlier, my approach to navigating my career path would have definitely been different.

In order to get and keep mentees on the path to their self-defined success, mentors are there to be encouraging, a sounding board, a trusted advisor, and to nurture the mentee’s personal growth and leadership qualities. Mentors should help mentees realize their potential through candor and tough love to promote self-motivation, self-realization, confidence, and self-discipline. Most of all, mentors are there to share their experiences and keep the mentee from making the same mistakes the mentor made along the way, which become learning lessons without the pain. Mentors are there to help mentees succeed and in return the mentors also benefit because their own skills may improve as a result of the interaction with their mentee. I believe one of the most important aspects of a mentor/mentee relationship is the long-lasting connection that may result from the interactions. A bond that fosters consistent guidance and trust. 

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Building Mentor Connections Through Work Orientation

Kickstarting Mentorships For Fulfilling Careers