WHAM! There it is again.
That 1-2 combo right between the eyes, followed by an upper cut on the chin, before the classic Tyson left hook to really take you down.
That was the feeling I had as I drove home last night from a dinner meeting with a friend.
I say friend, but the truth is, he is an unofficial mentor more than anything. There is no contract in place, and no exchange of $$, but this is a person who has an interest in seeing me reach my potential (for whatever reason).
So how did I meet this 'friend' and why would I want to hangout with them if they punch me in the face?
For the purposes of privacy, I am going to keep his name/industry private, but for some context, he is a highly, highly, (highly!) successful coach, with a focus on results, rather than hype. He is booked out a year in advance with speaking and coaching (internationally).
And is a legitimate industry leader with strong career capital, business acumen and excellent communication skills.
After hearing of him through a friend who was receiving some group training, and being interested in his approach/philosophy, I decided to send a cold email and sent my future self to task to obtain a meeting with him.
I was pleased to get a message back a month or so later explaining a light dinner would be fine, and to liaise with his P.A to set up the meet. I accepted the offer, of course, and did some more research into who he was, focus, interests etc to have some 'ammo' to talk about if the conversation stalled.
I would find out this 'ammo' would not be needed. We didn't talk about him at all. In fact, each time I tried to swing it back onto him, he would reverse it and put it back onto me.
The first time meeting, we chatted for a couple of hours about where I was at, where I wanted to go, what was stopping me and resources to help.
It was great to get a second opinion, with no ulterior motives. Just someone, who is a lot more successful than I, listening to what was happening in my professional life and where it was breaking down.
(Before offering the cold hard truth.)
It makes you feel vulnerable, exposes you and is very unconformable.
But it's real.
During our discussions, 95% of the time he would challenge my thinking, actions and plans. Shutting me down every time I put forth a (flawed) point of view, followed by offering the reality instead.
The awkward silences, and not so subtle facial expressions saying "What were you thinking!" are confronting to say the least.
Although uncomfortable, he helps me THINK for myself and objectively look at problems, rather than just winging it, losing focus, winging it again, gaining some inspiration and repeating. He helps me discover the why behind my decisions and actions, so the process can be replicated continuously to craft the path to success.
That is what a TRUE mentor will do for you. If you want someone to blow smoke up your ass and tell you everything will be ok, go to a family member or your best mate from high school. They're almost always supportive. Which is great when you need a little confidence boost, but not the reality. It will not help you move forward.
The second time we met up, we again covered me. Where I was at, what was happening, struggles, challenges, small wins etc.
And again, he would force me to challenge my own thinking. Focusing not on what I was doing right, but what I was doing wrong.
Instead of agreeing and searching for the positives, he instead looks for the chinks in my armour and hones in on them, with piercing accuracy and penetration.
He would give clarity on where I was going wrong, but no 'how to' on fixing it. This was MY job. Not his.
I again left, asking myself for the next week "why why why?". Why was I doing X? or Why did I make the decision to do that? What are the effects of that decision?
And then, last night, we caught up for another meeting.
Each time I go to him with a grin on my face from the progress I've made. "I've managed this since last time I saw you", "Check this out...!", "I've been busy doing this".
He listens....smiles, nods...and just when you think ahh he must be proud.
"WHACK". In comes the delivery of deadly blows.
The realness in the moment destroys confidence, kills your ego and makes you question yourself.
But this is the only way to move forward. The lessons learned during these sessions are in-valuable, and I am always appreciative. I see it as a challenge.
They're tough conversations to have, and to be honest, these aren't the types of sessions most can handle. Most people will stick in their comfort zone and follow the advice of loved ones, and stay in the same position.
But how will you grow if you stay inside that comfort zone?
As old mate Rocky said, "It's not how hard you hit, it's how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward".
So am I down and out?
Hell no. No 10 count. Not even an 8 count.
The push gets me up quicker.
It's only the end of round 1, and I'm ready to get back in the ring.
(P.S. I know you'll be reading this...so thank-you. Bring on the next round.)