Motivation vs. Manipulation

When it comes to coaching and mentoring, there are times when people unfortunately make the mistake of confusing motivation with manipulation.

Most of the time the difference between the two are simple, but there are a few situations where there may be a grey area.  Wether you are the one coaching or the one being coached, consider the following points:

  • Selfishness vs Selflessness.  This is the best metric to use when determining if the advice you are either giving or receiving is a tool of motivation or manipulation.  Just ask yourself if what you are doing will only help you or if it will help and benefit others around you.
  • Short-term and Long-term.  When coaching, the advice and leadership given should be pointing someone in the direction that will help them in the short-term and long-term.
  • Ethical and Moral Alignment.  Coaching and mentoring in the workplace is a great win-win situation.  When a company can pair a seasoned, experienced worker with an up-and-comer, it can produce great, long-term results.  It’s important to remember that any coaching or mentoring should not only be good for the company, but good for the person.  If a coach/mentor is leading someone to grow up the company ladder by using back-door deals and agreeing to do questionable projects, then not only the future of the company is in jeopardy, but so is the future of the one being mentored.

If you follow these three points, it will be clear to see if the advice you are giving (or receiving) falls under the angel or devil side of your shoulder.

If you are the one receiving coaching from a mentor and you see a pattern of manipulative leadership, run away…FAST.  Most likely the person is not confusing manipulation and positive motivation; they are purposely using manipulation for selfish, personal gain.

In other words, don’t become Evil Homer!


Be Flexible

Somewhat of a 2 parter based on the last post (Be Consistent)

In the last post, I mentioned, Mr. Sheddan, my high school band director.  After writing it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the phrase he always said: “Be flexible.”  He consistently used that phrase.  In any given day, the words “Be flexible” would be used at least 10 times.

Adapting a flexible attitude in business is essential for growth.  How else can you grow a business?  More importantly, how can you grow as a person if you are not flexible and willing to accept change?  Sadly not everyone accepts that line of reasoning.  Most people are resistant to change are happy being “creatures of habit.”  That kind of behavior can have a strong negative backlash, especially in business.

  • For too long Borders refused to be flexible.  By the time they were ready to accept a new business model, it was too late.
  • Blockbuster lost profits and fell on hard times due to not being flexible enough to compete with Netflix and Redbox.

Don’t get me wrong, having a strong strategic plan is key, but having a flexible mentality is just as important.  Being focused and flexible allows you to stay on track and leaves enough room for adjustments.  If you are too rigid with your planning and execution, then you could miss out on huge opportunities.  This can be applied to any aspect of life, not just business.

The opposite can be just has harmful.  If you are too flexible without a strong plan, then you are just following trends and chasing the wind; which can lead to disaster.  Again, this can be applied to any aspect of life.

Thanks Mr. Sheddan.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but you were helping all of us learn a valuable lesson by making one simple request.

Be flexible.

A Mentor. A Friend. Goodbye Dick Prince.

“Sometimes it makes me sad, though… I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”  — Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding

Dick, Routon and I dressed for The 4th of July

Less than two weeks ago I was on the phone talking to my friend and mentor Dick Prince.  As usual, I was asking for advice and he was more than happy to assist.  After guiding me in the right direction, we talked about a mutual friend and how we were both proud of her recent accomplishments and how she has grown as a person, both professionally and personally in the past few years.  We made plans to get dinner in January and ended our call.

This morning while driving to work, I received the hardest news I had heard in a long time.  My friend and mentor Dick Prince had passed away Monday night due to a massive heart attack.  I’m still in shock.  Out of everyone I know, Dick was the one I thought would be around forever.

When I interviewed for my first “grown up” job, it was Dick Prince who conducted the interview.  We hit it off at that moment.  When I needed advice about career advancement, he was there.  When I needed help with a project, he was there.  It didn’t stop there.  He helped with every aspect of my life.  I’ll never forget the advice he gave me about business, marriage and life.  He always reminded me to have fun and set an example of how to live a balanced life filled with joy.

Dick and I celebrating Christmas during a company function

He was one of the smartest individuals I knew and he always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Anyone who spent any time with him realized he was special and always left learning something new during each encounter.  When my wife and I got married four years ago, Dick Prince made sure to introduce himself to all of my family members.  To this day, I still have family members asking about Dick Prince and talking about how much they enjoyed meeting him.  He truly was special.

Thank you Dick for the time we spent together.  I’m angry it ended so soon, but am fortunate for time we shared.

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