Business Mentors: Do You Make Your Clients Struggle?

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In my teens I loved disco music (I still do!) and most weekends I would be dancing to the tunes of Heatwave, Rose Royce, Earth Wind & Fire…

30 Years Later…

My wife and I have been dancing together now for almost 3 years…The Waltz, Quickstep, Tango, Cha-Cha-Cha, Foxtrot, Rumba and Jive.

Last week we were learning a complex part (well we thought it was complex!) of the Waltz. We just couldn’t get the move right. We did struggle.

We asked the dance instructor and she wasn’t that helpful – or so we thought.

“That Instructor Is Useless”

After the class, we went home, cursing the instructor and practised for another hour.

We still struggled.

For the next few nights, we practised some more and finally last night it all came together. We came through the pain barrier. We did it! We are happy.

The dance instructor had purposely not helped too much. She wanted us to go home and practise, which we did. Her approach of not helping too much had worked.

“Let Them Discover”

Very often, when I am mentoring and my clients have a question, instead of just giving them THE answer, I ask questions and help them to “discover” the solutions on their own.

Let them struggle a bit.

Challenge their minds a bit.

Make them work a little.

It makes them remember.

A few years ago, my business mentor asked me, “Andrew, what do you think is the most important quality for a successful business owner?”

“Relationships” I replied.




“Hmm… Enthusiasm!”

“That’s important, but not the most important.”

Then my mentor said, “Persistence. It’s the ability to carry on when the chips are down”

Do you carry on when the ‘chips are down’?

Please share your views in the comments below.

P.S. A fun video of my wife and I dancing…

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44 Responses to Business Mentors: Do You Make Your Clients Struggle?

  1. Michelle Vandepas June 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    What a hoot! Love the dancing. I could even put my face up there and pretend… I think I make my clients struggle toooo much. there must be a balance..

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:20 am #


      I understand about getting the balance right.

      Some clients I know I have to help more than others. I suppose it is knowing your clients!


  2. trudy June 9, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    I always seem to get lucky in attracting the right mentor (the kind you described regarding your dance instructor). At first, it almost feels like you can’t catch a break, but then at a certain point you can look around and see most everyone else struggling and you are excelling! I totally relate to this, and thanks for sharing.

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:21 am #


      Sounds like you have found the mentor for you!


  3. Corinne Edwards June 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Dear Andrew –


    That makes you sound mean. And you are one of the most helpful people I know.

    As a media coach, I work one on one with clients. Hope I don’t make them feel as though they are struggling.

    But I am a bit of a perfectionist. I do make them do – especially their opening remarks and close – over and over until it is smooth, professional. Perfect.

    But anyone who can dance like you can do no wrong with me.

    My friends use to tease me that I would date a gorilla if he was a good dancer.

    Glad you got the waltz right. It is a bit of a stretch for someone who likes to dance disco.

    (Me too)

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:24 am #


      Being helpful can mean making your clients struggle (a little!).

      It’s just I believe by making them think they will remember.

      Must admit do prefer the latin dances (cha-cha-cha) over the ballroom ones.


  4. Debbie June 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Love the dance. Even though you both cheated just a little. LOL

    You do make people think when menotoring them. Some times I can get a little frustrated, but like you say in the end it all works out wonderful.

    I am a great example of persistence. An that is ok. My steps are little, but my feet are still moving. Maybe I should try the Tango. My feet would definetly be moving faster.

    By the way did you do that video? I like the way it is put together.
    Thanks Andrew for being the mentor you are.

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:26 am #


      I know…I sometimes hear the frustration!

      I did put the video together…go to the jib jab site. Simply do a Google search.


  5. Mike June 10, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Rose Royce, oh that brings back memories!

    Anyway, a teacher of mine when i was at school, many years ago now! used the same tactic as your dance teacher. Instead of just giving us the anwser to the problem, he asked us a question or two so that we had to think for ourselves to find the anwser. In the notion that he wouldn’t be there come exam day!
    And let me tell you, it certainly worked!

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:27 am #


      Rose Royce certainly do bring back some (fond) memories.

      Glad this approach works for you.


  6. Gabriella - The Stepford Wife June 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Very interesting post and being persistent is very important! Imagine if we all gave up after failing or coming to a curve-ball…. where would we get? What would happen to us if we suddenly were left in the deep end with no help? We’d have to continue and keep at it. Anyway, being persistent is a good trait to have.

    Enjoy the dancing. 🙂

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:28 am #


      It certainly is a great trait to have. Shame more of us don’t have it!


  7. Extreme John June 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    I remember the great philosopher “Aristotle” who had the very same principle of not giving out all the information and details but to let his students discover from their own curiosity. When a student asks something, Aristotle would ask back a question that would lead the student to the right answer. I didn’t think that Aristotle’s principle could also be helpful in the world of business. This is such a great way to crank up the imagination and creativity of the clients.

    Excellent post Andrew! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:30 am #


      I am often told ‘you always answer my question with a question’!


  8. HART (1-800-HART) June 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    I’m kind of the same way, although I will give answers instead of just questions. Before I do any training sessions with clients I let them know that they should have a coffee machine handy, as I will be sitting behind them drinking coffee while they do all the work!

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:31 am #


      I do think a great mentor is one who can get the client to think and come up with solutions themselves.


  9. Joel June 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Some great moves you have there! It’s interesting that I purposely try not to work weekends and check my email. Often on a Monday I’ll get an email from a client with a problem, but have a newer email saying don’t worry they solved it. I must get three or four of those every Monday.
    They gave up and asked me to do it (that’s what I’m here for!) but they persevered and solved it themselves.
    Good on them!

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:32 am #


      I think we often do that. We want a quick way out…don’t get it…then perservere and find a solution ourselves.


  10. Adam June 11, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    A real high skilled Kungfu master will never speak much or answer directly to your question, instead he will make you realize the true meaning of moves he imparted in a hard way. As Chinese speaking, easy thing come and goes easily 🙂

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:33 am #


      Perhaps I should call myself the Blogging ‘kungfu’ Mentor!


  11. Sherri--Being the Change I Wish to See June 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Absolutely fantastic Andrew!

    You are so right. If we teachers just gave you all the answers and didn’t make you think for yourselves, we’d have a world full of people who don’t know how to think, analyze and solve problems.

    With my students, we get to a certain point in a problem where the student no longer knows exactly what to do, and I ask, what comes next? Then if necessary, I take bathroom or water fountain break and give them a few minutes. Most of the time, they figure the problem out. Sometimes they don’t so I have to ask a lot more leading questions until they get it, then we have to do more problems of that type for practice.

    Without persistence, I wouldn’t have made it through college. It took me 6 years to get a 4 year degree after changing my major 5 times. But I didn’t quit. Quitting wasn’t an option. I was going to graduate come hell or high water.

    I don’t remember who said this, but success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

    Great dancing, and Earth, Wind, and Fire…ah good times; good times.


    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:36 am #


      Wow – changing your major 5 times and you still finished. That’s persistence!

      I believe it was Thomas Alva Edison who said “success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.

      EWF – I love them. Always go and see them when they visit here in the UK.

      Last time was in 2009 I think…so they could be over soon!


  12. Bruce June 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    discovery is a great way to learn. some things can only be discovered even when you know what you are looking for and know where to look. Not being responsible for their outcome is the position I take with patients. I guide them, cheer for them and encourage them but they gotta do the work. Letting them do the work when what they have sought is advice is important. Patients can not hire me to live their life for them so they have to be allowed to choose and live as they choose. When they ask, I tell them the truth in as encouraging a way as possible.

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:41 am #


      You mention an excellent point about ‘not living their life for them’. As a mentor you can only help and guide them…hoping they will take the correct action.


  13. Robert Doebler June 12, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I think learning the hard way always have a deeper impression in our lives and this makes us more experienced and wiser as well. When we are taught everything it becomes spoon feeding. If we really want to learn something we have to be passionate about learning and doing it and this is what you’ve conveyed perfectly in this article, Andrew. Well written!

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:42 am #

      Thanks, Robert.

      I try to stay away from ‘spoon feeding’.


  14. David Rogers June 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Persistence, mmm.. think I could do with a bit of that. Tend to be a bit hit and miss with my blog posting of late – need clear goals to achieve.

    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:44 am #


      We all have other things in our lives which sometimes take priority. Do you feel the other activities are of a higher priority?


  15. Delena Silverfox June 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Ah yes, the Socratic method. It’s definitely a tough way to learn, and even tougher to teach! Most teachers really just want to help, and the urge to jump in and helphelphelp is *so* difficult to resist! But in the end, it really does solidify the material in the student’s head if they figure it out for themselves.

    That’s not to say let them flounder until they get it right. With this way, yeah, there’s a little struggle, but it’s guided struggle, and that’s the difference.

    Loved the dance! =)


    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:45 am #


      You are right…it’s getting the balance between helping/guiding and making them really struggling.

      Glad you liked the dance!


  16. fred June 13, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    >>In my teens I loved disco music (I still do!)

    Oddly enough, disco music has actually seen a real resurgence in recent years among 20somethings and record nerds…classic disco vinyl is a big seller in shops these days!

    The big-head video was crazy!


    • Andrew June 14, 2011 at 11:46 am #


      30 years ago I had a huge collection of disco vinyls. Now..all gone…sad to say!


  17. Jason Mitchev June 13, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Great points! I think a bit of struggle is required in order to actually get the idea. If something is too easy – it is perceived as less valuable.

  18. Petra June 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Loved the video 🙂 I think there’s a lot to be said for the power of self-discovery in the learning process. For myself personally, I feel as though I am able to retain information learned better if I discover the answers to questions myself. It’s one thing to have someone tell you the answer right off the bat, but a completely different thing to look for the answer yourself. When you find the answer yourself, you’re left with a greater feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, too.

    • Andrew June 15, 2011 at 7:19 pm #


      Re: finding the answer yourself….I agree as long as it doesn’t take too long!

      Knowing when to ask for help is a strength.


  19. Beat Schindler June 15, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    I was looking out of the window, seeing a thoroughly miserable rainy night and asking myself – what could lift me out of this gloom? And around came your dancing video :-] Fab! That said, in answer to your pre-video question, I’d say I’m selectively persistent. For I call “vision” – dream(s) taken seriously – should I ever die they will have to kill me extra to make me less persistent. The small stuff I don’t sweat. In coaching, my golden rule is that if the student isn’t ready it won’t matter a dickie-bird how many teachers show up. But I will still love to have him/her as MY client rather than see them dance off elsewhere :-]

    • Andrew June 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm #


      Glad you liked the video!

      I agree the student has to be ready…


  20. Tyrone Shum June 16, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Hey Andrew,

    Great distinctions! Now I know I’m doing the right way of giving them a bit of a challenge. I do love challenges but I do also love to just “give away” so I think those times when I really made them think were really much helpful. 🙂

    • Andrew June 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm #


      Well…sometimes ‘give away’ is also helpful.


  21. Amy LeForge July 23, 2011 at 1:46 am #

    LOVED the video Andrew! Both you and your wife are such good dancers, lol. I haven’t done enough with clients to say that I’ve been challenging, but it is something I try to remember to do with the boys. They’re not so fond of the technique really. But that’s okay….they’ll get it someday.

    • Andrew July 23, 2011 at 8:03 am #


      They will thank you for it when they are about 35!


      P.S. My wife and I are much better dancers than those in the video (kidding!).

  22. Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny August 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Lol! That was glorious! And a great laugh – I am imagining you and your wife dancing exactly like that.

    Great advice too. As you know, I practice martial arts. Your advice is especially pertinent to working things out. I can’t be told how to do it over and over. I have to practice and ask questions and then drill it over and over until my body gets the move.

    Really good. And speaking of really good, thank you so much for the Mental Toughness CD collection. I love winning prizes!

    • Andrew August 18, 2011 at 10:19 am #


      Yeah my wife and I dance exactly like that (not!).

      Glad you god the CD’s – hope you enjoy them!


  23. Catherine Newton July 11, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    Having a business is not so easy. It needs a lot of research and focus. Thank you for your post it will aid me in establishing a stronger firm.

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