GET MORE series: Find a mentor or get a coach! But Why & How?

Continuing the highly informative and much discussed Hence GET MORE series we now move to the topic of the support systems behind progress in performance.  If this is your first time reading this blog, there’s a healthy obsession written into the context - progress, performance and growth. Personally and as a collective.

For some, this idea of mentors and/or coaches may be an obvious part of the process. For others, we may question its necessity entirely, consider it a luxury or “not my thing” even.  I know going back a few years, I was one of these doubters. What I noticed was - I actually had the support around me anyway and they were making a big impact! (there goes the hidden prerogative of this post!).

It’s not about being reliant...

You’re strong and independent, but you do need support… and unfortunately, a friend on a similar or different journey probably won’t quite cut it.  The role as I see it as a friend or equal in a given topic is that you take them as exactly that, equal. Therefore if they offer some advice, friendly or otherwise, it doesn’t resonate anything like as powerfully as it would from someone you look up to or know is a trained expert in the field.

But this person that helps guide you through the weeds in unknowns is not what gets you to the outcome you are progressing towards.  Performance is a choice and the fact that you have made it means you are now responsible for it.  

This subject, like many others here on the Hence Blog, is actually about growth.  Something we are all learning about, all the time. We all continue to grow. The wonderful thing about functional fitness, performance-driven training and competition the likes of CrossFit or OCR (spartan racing, tough mudder etc.) is this growth seems fast-paced and continually amazing & impressive!  

One day you can’t the next you can!  

Fitness, perhaps, when done with objectives in mind includes far more growth than when it doesn’t… 

Or maybe this is down to the coach?  Is my point becoming clear yet?

We are reliant on our coaches and mentors through there support and guidance, but that isn’t to say we wouldn’t carry on regardless.  

The advantage we can get from this support is huge, it perhaps seems impossible without to some? But others are going to that place regardless of a longer period of growth.

High performance is a choice.  If you’ve made it, you’ll know.  The mentor’s and coach’s part is simply the speed you attack the right path at.

See the happy conundrum we find ourselves in?  The role of the coach? How much is down to the coach and then why should we go out to find a mentor? 

The best help.

As a teenager, I played a decent level of basketball. At school, I was lucky enough to go to a school with good teachers that were role models and had a personable side (mentors).  And as an adult, I’ve worked with some great people that really wanted to see my progress.

And this is what it boils down to. Good people, that want to see you do well.  Another reason why we must look beyond the equal relationships we have around us. 

Sometimes opportunities and growth are viewed as a zero-sum game - for someone to win, someone must lose.  Therefore this support network we build is about trust - knowing they mean the best 100% of the time. Because the moment you doubt, the recipe goes bad.  So the friend on the same journey, have you doubted their support? knowingly?

The best help comes only really when you are ready to receive it.  

As a previous reader of this blog, you will know I believe strongly you create all you’re own outcomes.  This doesn't mean the help isn’t needed - it means you get what you need when you need it.  

With this in mind, how to maximise the benefits of the help we are receiving? Or find the best help to grow as much as possible?  

For me, this is predominantly an answer already written above.

  1. Believe in the help you are getting

  2. Push for constant, continuous growth

  3. Be accountable

  4. And then it’s about the uncomfortable.

Being Comfortable in the Uncomfortable and they will find you.

I believe this is the key to finding a perfect Mentor and working with a great Coach.  

I believe we mostly know what we have to do to excel at something - fitness, through fitness or otherwise. What’s stopping us is the uncomfortable part, be it time-consuming, a huge physical effort or in inconvenience etc. 

We know the what and the why - we want to help with the how.  

So by carrying out the parts we can, I believe the help with the How will find us.  

Getting to that uncomfortable place where you know this is what’s necessary but it’s just a push. That’s where those great coaches and mentors lie in wait.

How am I so sure?

When you hold yourself with pretty high regard other people do too. The self-belief and self-focus are infectious and magnetic.  Drive is the one and the same as these traits. This acts as a natural magnet of attention from people that are looking for dedicated and driven people.

Correct, there are a wealth of people out there looking for people to nurture to greatness.  A great coach can help students and loves to see them grow, but they want a great student. To match their coaching dedication and skills to test what’s possible.  Any coach, I believe, feels this at one time or another. It’s what they love about coaching and in many cases, why they do it.

And Mentors?  Where do they pop up from?  Some people believe they are looking for a mentor the entire time. When actually they are using it as an excuse.  I’ve witnessed this and probably been in this mindset at some point. Instead, just get out there and do it. The mentor will find you*.  You may have to coerce them into giving you that initially time 1to1, but if you truly back yourself and are pushing, that person if they are capable, will help.

So I guess I’m so sure about these ideas for one major reason.  This is how it worked for me and others I have seen along the way!  

And I don’t believe I am super lucky.  I believe I took the leap of faith and then pushed hard until these people starting showing themselves* more and more.  

*To clarify what I mean by this, do the work, put in the graft and then keep an eye on who’s around and in your network.  When you are driven to outcome there is often someone that pops to mind that has done it or something similar. There is your mentor.  By doing it, the drive has shown you the answer. Without trying, how could you know?

What does it mean to have a mentor?  Maybe you already do!

Today I have people in every aspect of my life that I am guided and helped by in some way or another. They listen and probe me until they either say what’s obvious (that I’m generally missing!) or help me to see it myself.  Sometimes the sounding board of discussion is enough for the penny to drop.

I don’t give each person & conversation the full life update with every aspect built in to give perspective and understanding to how much I am or not doing.  This is learnt before - in how we met. I stood out. I was pushing. I’m going in the direction I intended for myself. That’s enough for the mentor to know the background to trust.  See it’s mutual trust.  

Mentors see themselves as a pair of ears and sounding board first.  Once they have some details that’s when the uniqueness of their skill set and experience comes in.  And what the mentor get from the relationship in my experience isn’t much different to that of the mentee (having been both now) - clarity, belief and focus.

Sometimes as the mentee (I find particularly in fitness and sport) it’s just the knowing what’s possible.  Knowing that we are on the right track and the push is what’s going to get is to the goal. An experienced mentor and coach dos this without even saying it sometimes.  The again is guidance. The biggest jump is into the unknown, but when you know, then you just have to get on and do it. That support has made that so much easier just by being part of your life.  And if you outgrow, guess what happens? That unspoken known becomes useful to them. But you look upwards for the next support system.

Maybe the best bit.

The greatest thing about pushing yourself to your goals and finding great coaches and great mentors - You get great friends too.

There is a phrase “you are the average of the 5 people you spent the most time with” coined by Jim Rohn.  If you havn’t already connected the dots, these people to are inspired by becoming these 5 people. Once you fit that group, which we all do with any peer group. It’s human nature...

Hence, you become that inspiration.  You grow, that’s what this means when you hunt progress in whichever field, everything feeds into it to become part of the outcome.  

You will hit hurdles and they will feel at times impossibly tough.  And then you pass them by, because when you focus on the outcome and trust the coach’s advice with the help of your mentor listening, guiding and perhaps saying “this is how it goes…”

Luke from Hence.

Footnote: I’ve dug briefly into the mental game and will be launching a far more comprehensive resource and program for “enhencement” in this area with MindFit but really this another crossover.  Guidance, whether it comes from within or from others.  Over a coffee or in silence... is guidance.