Are you a bricklayer or are you building a Cathedral?

Sometimes, it’s a struggle to get people to a higher level of capability. At times, they don’t care so much about developing themselves. Sometimes, they want to learn new things, but their ability to learn and apply is not very fast. Sadly, some people are coming to work just for the salary. Some only look at work-life as a series of tasks to complete.

The challenge is how to distinguish one type from another?

It’s not an easy question. The best recourse is to manage your expectation of people. One, understand that everyone is different. Even more profound is that everyone is different from you.

Second, ask them and look them in the eye as they answer. Ask them if they are genuinely interested in developing themselves. Listen to their answer and watch their body language. Try to see if they are both giving you the same answer.

Third, empathize with them. Some don’t know what they don’t know. People are sometimes conditioned that work is all it is work. They were not allowed to dream of a better career. They have the notion that learning stops after you leave the University.

There is this excellent lesson from John Maxwell’s book about Mentoring. We need to filter the people we mentor using a set of criteria. We have a certain amount of time and resources to develop others. We need to use it wisely and be selective.

When selecting whom to mentor:

Mentoring the 20% who will make 80% difference

1. Select mentees who make things happen

2. Select mentees who seek opportunity

3. Select mentees who can influence others

4. Select mentees who add value

5. Select mentees who attract other leaders. They influence others. They focus on others’ strengths. To attract leaders, you need to be a better leader.

6. Select mentees who equip others.

7. Select mentees who have positive attitude.

8. Select mentees who are loyal. Mentees who put you in a positive light in front of others. Seeks to help you, their mentor.

As I step back, thinking about it. It is profoundly true. For many years I have had the opportunity to mentor different people of different nationalities. However, the more meaningful ones possess a particular set of behaviors and competencies.

Let me share the story of the bricklayer and cathedral builder. This Italian gentleman was walking in Rome in the 15th Century. After a few blocks, he comes across a bricklayer laying bricks under the heat of the noon sun.

The gentleman stops and asks the bricklayer, ‘Good day, May I know what you are doing?’ The bricklayer looks up. With sweat on his forehead, he frowns and says, ‘I’m laying bricks.’

The gentleman thanks him and walks further down the wall being built. After ten meters, he comes across another bricklayer. He asks the bricklayer the same question. ‘Good day. May I know what you are doing?’ The bricklayer puts down the brick he is holding. He wipes the sweat off his brows and looks up. ‘Can’t you see? I’m laying bricks!’

The gentleman thanks him and walks further down the wall. After another ten meters, he comes across a third bricklayer. He asks the bricklayer the same question. ‘Good day. May I know what you are doing?’ The bricklayer wipes his face and looks up. With a big smile, he replies, ‘Ah, young man. Thank you for asking. I am building a Cathedral!’

Seek people that understand they are building a cathedral.

Find cathedral builders and help set them up for success.

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