Methods for gaining knowledge – mentors, advisers and choosing a discomfort zone

I was reading up on some material written by marketing guru Seth Godin and marveled once more at the insight this man brings to his writing so effortlessly and at once, so obvious as to wonder why you hadn’t tapped the same vein of thought through your own resources.
He highlights that if we go down the path of a chosen activity and that if we intend to do our best and achieve at the highest possible level then we need something or someone externally to measure or monitor progress and keep setting a direction.
Many of us have a number of informal mentors we can plug in from time to time who can help us achieve our goals, others may be needed for more formal guidance, such as that personal trainer who may be able to answer the question of “Do Testosterone Boosters Work?” or the other coach, if you are a member of a sporting team or a business consultant if you are running your own business.

Your pharmacy practice would probably represent one of your largest investments in both time and money, yet few business owners set out to assemble a team of advisers representing different levels or types of advice support believing that they can do it all themselves.

It is possible to create a percentage of the knowledge inputs required to succeed in a highly competitive environment through personal effort, but at some point the limit will be reached, and at that time a certain level of unravelling will occur no matter how strong your business foundation is.

Pharmacists working in the highly regulated environment of a community pharmacy would be well aware of when they have reached a capacity limit, but instead of stopping off to seek out advice or other opinion, thewy continue to push through believing that all will come good or an external organisation such as the Pharmacy Guild will make things right.
Well, that’s not going to happen because you have to take responsibility for your own decisions (or the lack of decision-making) and that requires that you get out of your current channels of thinking and get some fresh logic and perspective.
Here is some input from Seth Godin:

Your discomfort zone

Most of us need an external stimulus to do our best work.

It helps to have an alarm clock if you want to get out of bed before dawn.

A presentation.
A deadline.
A live performance.
The threat of foreclosure, an upcoming review or some sort of crisis.

We can use these pressures to dig deeper, find new resources and overcome our self doubt.

The challenge is that sometimes, we pick the wrong stimulus.
We choose a prompt to serve us, but we end up serving it, in a situation that hurts us (and others) instead of fuelling the work.

It’s essential to realise that our discomfort zone is a choice, there isn’t a pre-ordained roster.
If you need a deadline, for example, but have discovered that those deadlines are costing you money (because shortcuts are expensive), then it’s worth doing the hard work to find a new form of discomfort.

The problem with a drop-dead deadline is that if you miss it, you’re dead.

If you need to make huge promises and add all sorts of hype, but that hype is hurting your reputation, again, it’s worth investing in a new way to poke yourself to dig deeper.

When we hear about divas, or dysfunctional managers, more often than not we see a situation where someone who should know better has chosen the wrong form of discomfort.

The argument can be made that the biggest difference between a professional, an amateur and someone who’s not even participating is their choice of discomfort.

Give it a name, call it out.
Your discomfort zone is a choice, and if it’s not serving you, fix it.

Like all tools, the right one serves the professional.

Now many pharmacists find themselves currently in a discomfort zone akin to a big, black hole.

They know that to climb out they will need a rational plan and that to develop that plan they will need good advice and mentor support.
No doubt the plan will require a financial investment, which is why you will need a plan in the first place.
To sell your plan to a banker or an investor you must first “own” the plan.
You do not pay an adviser to draw up your plan – rather you develop a plan based on as many input sources that you can muster and then submit it to a formal adviser to apply a value analysis.
Apart from owning the plan you must be prepared to passionately defend it by debate with your adviser, pick up the pieces left after the debate and glue them together in a  logical-chronological format.

This revised plan is now your rock-solid version you can defend against all critics and is the plan that will be financed and supported by interested people who become vested in the success of your plan.
These people will also be important to your long-term success.
How can you ensure a range of good advisers and mentors, you ask?

Well a starting point might be to ask around your peer group to see who they have on the team and then start an interview process with prospects that appeal.

Next, you could decide as to whether you might appoint some of these people as non-executive board members to your own company board.

If they are non-pharmacists then create an advisory board distinct from your formal company board and meet on a regular basis. An advisory board has no other function than to provide advice to a set of questions.
However, an advisory board can be shared with your peer group (who can also share costs as well).
By adding and subtracting from your advisory board you can always refresh and renew advice to carry you through into the future building confidence and direction through this process.

One other simple method to obtain quality advice is to workshop a set of questions with your own staff or a combination of staff attached to your peer group.
Set aside the time outside of business hours and use an experienced facilitator who is not a regular staff member.
You will be surprised at the quality of advice staff can bring to the table ands if the workshop is made a “fun” experience, they will be willing to repeat the performance.
P.S. Don’t forget to pay them appropriately to rewards their input.

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