I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about mentoring. I used to think it was simply about modeling certain behaviors, but I’ve learned along the way that there is a lot more to it than that. In fact, a big part of mentoring happens before the guiding, directing, and modeling actually start. Selecting the right people makes a huge difference, even to the point that it really should be considered part of the mentoring process.

Simply put, some people have it and some people don’t.

I’m not saying that there are people who are not worth the time and training. Not at all. What I am saying is that not everyone is suited for every role. You see, developing people isn’t about making them into something they’re not. It’s about identifying their natural abilities and building those into real strengths, improving and refining them. It’s like the line from the song Tin Man by America:

Oz never did give nothin’ to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have.

If you want to develop talent in your workforce, in your organization, or even within your children, you need to spend a lot of time getting to know where their strengths lie. Really, it comes down to getting to know them. Only then can you help them reach their potential, and isn’t that what mentoring is all about?

You can’t make something from nothing.

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’
If you wanna be with me
(Billy Preston, Nothing from Nothing)

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