How do you define struggle?
If you don’t struggle, you don’t learn and your experience doesn’t really get to be your own.
I worked with Highline College to mentor an intern, Mahamoud. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do or how I would actually teach him. I met him twice before he started, so I didn’t really know him or how we would communicate and work together.
Mahamoud started and I showed him how to do a task or two and I went about coaching and doing my own tasks in the gym. He put in his first day and I didn’t feel satisfied but couldn’t really put my finger on it. I’m busy and juggle a lot and I didn’t want an added job or person to tip me over. Without anything concrete, I just kept in mind that I was dissatisfied with how I handled my first day with him and that I wanted something different.
Then my answer came. I was sitting at a restaurant bar and watching a supervisor train a new employee. The supervisor was telling the employee exactly how to do each task and both looked bored and slightly dead in the eyes. The employee wasn’t encouraged to try things, be independent or think on their own. The supervisor had to manage every single little thing the employee did, so they were doubling up their work load for the day. The supervisor seemed stressed and the employee was bashful and demure.
That was it, that was exactly what I needed to see.
The next time I had Mahamoud, I told him to clean the bathroom. He asked me how would he do that? I asked him to look it up on his phone in google or you tube and figure it out and I would look at the finished product. This approach did wonders. Mahamoud figured out how to clean things, how to empty vacuums, how to do all the tasks in the gym that I gave him because he looked them up himself, interpreted the information then implemented a plan he came up with himself. In the meantime, I got my work done with minimal interruption and now have help that is independent and willing to make mistakes and take time to learn. By the way, Mahamoud did a more than sufficient job cleaning the bathroom.
This was a terrific paradigm change for me and a huge lesson. Giving Mahamoud space to struggle, gave him personal efficacy and confidence resulted. I’m proud of the way he developed over the time of his internship and I’m stoked to have my eyes open to a different way to lead people.