Call me a geek if you want…

But I for one am more than a little excited about the new Wolverine movie due out this summer.

What’s not to like? The guy oozes cool, he’s badass, he’s virtually indestructible and – last but not least – he has those metal CLAWS.

But there’s more to Wolverine than meets the eye – he is a complicated character with hidden depths. What you might not realise is that he and his relationships with his Marvel buddies the X-Men can actually teach us some incredibly valuable lessons when it comes to business.

Recently I got to thinking about this and surprisingly I found a ton of parallels – not least in regard to the issue of mentoring and coaching. I realised some important and fundamental truths about the topic can actually be illustrated really well by these superhero mutants, so sit back whilst I share with you how you can benefit from a little X-Mentoring (…see what I did there?)

Pride can hurt

Wolverine is savvy, streetwise and independent. He’s earned a fearsome reputation for being tough and brooding but when the proverbial hits the fan, he turns to Professor-X for guidance (yep – that’s the bald guy in the wheelchair).

Striking out on your own as an entrepreneur is a brave decision that takes a unique mindset. You want to prove your strength and capability, but often this can mean taking on more than you are equipped to deal with. Having so much to do can be a challenge and it is all too easy to get swamped trying to hold everything together. It’s common to suffer from lack of direction not knowing which path to choose or simply struggle with lack of focus on the most important things you need to grow your business.

The solution: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that asking for assistance is something to be ashamed of. Make like Wolverine (because even the most badass need help sometimes) and get the support and guidance you need: find a business coach.

Make the right choice

All mutants want to achieve the same objective (a world where mutants are accepted members of society who can live without fear) – but they are clearly divided about how to get there. The X-Men work with Professor-X and take a broad-minded approach – seeking to harmonise with the ‘normal’ human population. Magneto’s gang on the other hand have no qualms about employing brute force and violence to beat those humans into submission.  So although both faction share exactly the same goal, they are totally opposed in their philosophies.

Make sure you align yourself with a mentor who truly understands and complements you, your goals and your desires. The right mentor for you will most likely have a very similar outlook and ethos to your own, and their mentoring style should reflect that. Trust, mutual understanding and compatibility are key to a successful business mentoring relationship.

What you need: Whoever you choose as your mentor, they will have a significant impact on your business development. Get as much intel as possible so you can make an informed decision. Testimonials from previous genuine clients are invaluable, and personally getting in touch with those people for further proof of endorsement more valuable still. Always check credentials and ensure your prospective mentor has the necessary experience and coaching style. Remember – your business is on the line, so be discerning when investing in your mentor.

Accept mutation

You will never develop your business if you can’t (or won’t) adapt. For better results, you either have to do different things or do things differently. A great coach can provide you with the inspiration, guidance and support you need – but you must willingly embrace it and take action, or not only will that valuable coaching go to waste, you stand to cause your business serious damage.

Just take a look at Wolverine – he had some serious ‘issues’ before Professor-X got hold of him. He was angry and stubborn and set in his ways, and this – combined with lack of focus and direction -meant he was incapable of settling or building relationships. But with guidance and a lot of patience, Wolverine gradually became more at peace with his demons and accepting of his situation. He learnt to be more open minded and the changes he developed gave him more respect and admiration from other mutants than he ever had previously – making him stronger and more powerful than ever.

The Takeaway: There’s more than one way to skin a cat – and the same old, same old won’t get you to where you want to be.  It’s all very well knowing your own mind, but not to the exclusion of anything else. You must let go and be open to thinking and acting differently by accepting advice and trying a new approach if you’re going to get out of the rut you’re in and take your business to new heights.

You’re not alone

Once each mutant became acquainted with the fact that they were not the only one out there (thanks to Professor X) their entire concept of how they viewed life quickly began to shift. Once in the nurturing environment of the Academy, their willingness to engage, to connect and to develop themselves took huge leaps forward. The X-men work as a team. They recognise that every mutant has a unique ability and they all look to Professor-X for direction to combine those skills to complement each other, focus their objectives and create a formidable force.

As an entrepreneur you are unique, but you are not the only person to experience the kinds of situations and challenges that your business brings. You can benefit from the support and experiences of others under the direction of a nurturing mentor or coach.

Top Tip: Consider group coaching sessions – they have the added benefits of not only making the most of the experience of a business coach, but also promoting diversity of thinking, practice and understanding through sharing ideas and expertise with your peers – the diversity of perspectives that emerges from group coaching interaction is a powerful motivator!

Keep it real

Wolverine is a notoriously prickly character, and no matter what he always remained fiercely independent and self-assured about his driving forces and the resulting actions he took to achieve his objectives. Whilst this attitude made him tricky to deal with (and more than a little unpopular with his fellow X-Men) his determination and passion ultimately won their highest esteem.

But Wolverine wasn’t the only one with strength and resolve. As Wolverine’s mentor Professor-X worked gently but firmly to develop their relationship over time. In his wisdom, he knew the right way to handle Wolverine – never pushing him too far or making demands. In fact, he realised that the way to get the Wolverine to give his absolute best was by maximising his existing qualities and encouraging him to think in new directions and make positive changes.

What you can learn: YOU are in control of your own business – and it should stay that way. If a mentor is a good fit for you, they will NEVER take power away from. An effective mentor will be forthright and challenge you in order to give you the guidance you need to help you make your own discoveries regarding changes and plans you need to implement to achieve what you want.

Whilst you may know what you want to accomplish with your business, it is important that you are aware of how you want to go about achieving your goals.

A mentor or coach can be the key to enlightenment – opening your eyes and encouraging you to think differently and implement the right changes to achieve those goals to advance your business to a higher level.

A great mentor should not tell you what to do or how to do it; instead they should empower you and offer guidance when you need it most, so you must choose your mentor with care. Be sure to check their credentials – is their training up to scratch? Have they a proven record in a relevant sector? Are they associated with any professional organisations? This person is going to be a powerful influence, so it should be someone you trust and respect who isn’t afraid to be tough when things get a little rough so you can gain maximum benefit.

Remember that YOU are in charge of your own destiny and only you have the power to change it, so be passionate, persistent and follow your heart. Every Superhero has a plan so take advantage of the expertise, experience and wisdom of your mentor to develop clear long term and short term plans based on your vision, your values and specific goals.

…Your very own Professor-X could be waiting just around the corner – and he could just help you transform your business…

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