Leading, Mentoring, Coaching, Comets, and Gravity–It’s so not about you. Neo-DeMarcoian Thoughts

In all the classes we teach here at ACSC on leadership—mentoring is always a topic that comes up.  In the past decade or so—there has been increased talk of “coaching” vs mentoring and honestly, it is an interesting conversation. I worry at times we get stuck in the minutiae and forget the big picture—what are we doing to simply help each other out.  As leaders what are we doing to help those around us identify their purpose, their philosophy, their strategy, their dream?  AND then—what are we doing to help those around us achieve that dream?  Moishe Rosen teaches a one-sentence mental exercise that is an effective tool in helping a person identify all of the above. He asks a person to fill in the blanks:

If I had ___________________________, 

I would ___________________________.

Pretty simple really, pretty deep, but not easy.

The idea: if you had anything you wanted—unlimited time, unlimited money, unlimited information, unlimited staff (all the resources you could ask for)—what would you do? Your answer to that question is your dream.

Issac Newton left and Edmund Halley right

In John Maxwell’s “ Developing the Leaders Around You” he talks about Isaac Newton’s discovery of the law of gravity after observing the fall of an apple. What few people know is that Edmund Halley, the astronomer who discovered Halley’s Comet, is almost single-handedly responsible for Newton’s theories becoming known. Halley challenged Newton to think through his original notions. He corrected Newton’s mathematical errors and prepared geometrical figures to support his work. Not only did he encourage Newton to write his great work, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, but he edited the work, supervised its publication, and financed its printing, even though Newton could easily afford the printing costs.

Halley encouraged Newton to act on his dream, and it added immeasurable significance to Newton’s life. Halley received little credit, but he must have gained great satisfaction in knowing he had inspired revolutionary ideas in the advancement of scientific thought.  Now, that’s real mentoring, coaching, dare I say leadership.  

How would you feel about that kind of mentoring?  That kind of parenting? That kind of coaching?  That kind of leadership—the kind that says, I want you to be better than me, please stand on my shoulders, so I can lift you up.  Just remember—leadership is SO not about you—it’s all about them.


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