师傅领进门,修行靠个人 / Learning from Mentors

师傅领进门,修行靠个人

我年轻时初入职场,在香港遇到位中国老板,他是位很好的职场导师。他不会像学校老师那样详细给你解释某个定律如何作用,而只会告诉你有这个定律,然后就让你自己去找出个中的缘由。

那时候这让我感觉很焦虑也很恼火,因为我还没有能力把这些定律和特定的情境联系在一起,而老板不花时间解释也让我觉得很不爽。

后来我才认识到,他知道如果我被逼无奈下最终能自己悟出来,一定会比他事无巨细地教给我印象更深刻。他是对的,这些道理虽然得之不易,但却伴我终生。

记得有一次,我按照他的要求提交了一份商业计划书,客户是一家市政公司,但我对市政行业却一窍不通。我觉得老板给我的时间和背景材料都不充分,根本就不可能写出好的方案,所以当他“毙”掉我的初稿时,我倒也没觉得意外。

我张口辩解道:“我以为——”

他马上就打断了我的话,说:“这就是问题的关键。任何事都不能想当然。”

我紧接着说:“可是我想……”

他再次打断了我:“这就是问题的关键。你没有动脑子。”

然后他就走开了,还让我重写一遍,丢下我暗自思忖他到底是什么意思。

他只给我留了一条路,就是靠常识和逻辑分析去思考一下计划书里面所包含的商业问题。

我认真思索了一番,第二天就提交了一份彻底修改过的商业计划书。很明显,老板很喜欢,评价说:“啊!你这次用心了。”

客户也很满意,结果我们拿到了合同。

事后总结一下,好导师不必凡事都讲细讲透。有时候,间接的方法才是让人彻底思考的最佳途径。

Learning from Mentors

When I was a young man starting my career, I had a Chinese boss in Hong Kong who was a great mentor. Unlike a teacher who explains in detail how a particular principle works, however, he would just state the principle and leave it to me to work out the whys and wherefores.

At the time I found this frustrating and annoying, because initially I was unable to connect the dots between the principle and the specifics of the situation. I was annoyed because he didn’t take the time to explain.

In hindsight, I think he realized that if I was forced to work it out on my own, under pressure, the lesson thus learned would be more impactful than if he had explained it to me in detail. He was right. These were lessons learned the hard way, but they have always stayed with me.

I recall one case where I submitted a business proposal which he’d asked me to write, for a client which was a utility company, a business I knew absolutely nothing about. I didn’t think he’d given me enough time or background detail to write a good proposal, so I was not too surprised when he rejected my first draft.

In defending my performance, I began one sentence with “I assumed that…”

Right away, he cut me off in mid-sentence: “That’s exactly the point. Never assume anything.”

My next sentence began with “But I thought that…”

He interrupted me again: “That’s exactly the point. You failed to think. “

And then he walked away, telling me to rewrite the proposal. I was left wondering what he actually meant.

He left me no alternative but to rely on common sense and logical analysis in thinking about the business problems inherent in the proposal.

I put some serious thought into it, and submitted a completely revised proposal the following day. He clearly liked it, and commented “Ah. You really thought about it clearly and in depth this time.”

The client liked it too, and we got the contract.

In hindsight, good mentors don’t necessarily explain everything in detail. Sometimes a more indirect approach is the best way to force you to think the problem through.


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