Mentoring can change the arc of your career in any field and especially in sports. Recently I had the good fortune to sit down with my childhood sports hero, Bo Jackson, the only athlete in history to be named an All-Star in both baseball and football. We discussed why mentoring is important to him and how it has changed his life.
ADVICE FOR MENTORS: MENTORING ISN’T FOREVER
His early mentors were his mother, high school coaches and college coaches. The supported him and pushed him to do great things. In addition to supporting and teaching him they knew when to let go. Letting Bo eventually succeed on his own became important to his career. So… One of the important things they did for him was to wean him off of depending on them.
When you mentor someone that is an important distinction for your relationship with them. They should be growing and able to do things on their own as a result of your advice and not ALWAYS coming back for more help.
BLUNT ADVICE FOR MENTEES: GET UP AND MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN
On the other side of the fence are the mentees. When I asked what people can do to find a mentor Bo said “Get off of the couch, put the video games down.” There are virtually limitless places, online and offline, that you can go to find mentors. There are networking events. There are industry events for everything from cooking to science. There’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the list goes on.
If you want to find a mentor you have to ASK. Many people are ready and willing to be mentors but they’re not advertising that fact. People aren’t mind readers and you can’t expect mentors to just show up or fall into your lap. You have to put yourself in the right places to find mentors and ask them for specific kinds of help. Without that extra help you could get stuck and not make it to that next rung on the ladder to success.
Some potential mentors are wondering “Do I have what it takes to be a mentor?” and some potential mentees are wondering “Do I really need a mentor?”. According to Bo: “If you have doubts about anything you want to do you’ve already failed. Period. Decide to get off your butt and start making a difference tomorrow or today”
It comes down to if you do what you’ve always done you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. get up, get out and start connecting with people. Get all of your dominoes lined up and ask for help or offer to help people that come to you for advice.
All is takes is one question to start a mentoring relationship, “Can you help me with…?”