My Experiences with a Mentor
A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of us to show us how they did it. A mentor walks alongside us to show us what we can do.
I gave a lecture at a Nebraska State NSCA Conference a few years ago and shared this story:
I started college life at a small school in Iowa so I could play college soccer. After becoming disenchanged with the academics, I transferred to Creighton University. Until this point, I was determined to be a dentist. But I found myself dreading class and seeing my grades suffer. I nearly dropped out of Creighton, but met with the Chair of the Exercise Science Department to see what other options might be out there. He told me about the different directions such a major might help guide me to including the one in which I was most interested at the time, Strength and Conditioning. I changed majors from Biology to Exercise Science and began work with two mentors who continue to guide me today. One of them provided insights into networking and the professionalism required of me both during and after school. The other helped me to understand the “why” of strength training and conditioning.
Those experiences provided homework and tasks for a specific goal. But I didn’t realize then that both of these mentors were really teaching me how to live my professional life. Without them, there is no chance I would be where I am today and I would not have experienced many of the things I have done thus far. These two mentors are one of the reasons I believe in mentoring and why I enjoy being a mentor to so many others now. They helped me see what was out there, they didn’t “force” me down a pre-determined path, they taught me and worked with me to allow me to find the path that worked best for me. And their work helped instill a confidence in me that I could indeed do this. I am forever grateful for their support.
In addition to these two, I have had several mentors in my life and I feel so blessed to have worked with them. Those two mentors have been with me for more than 30 years, but I’ve had others who were with me for shorter periods.
- A billionaire businessman taught me the importance of hard work, collaboration, and integrity.
- An orthopedic surgeon demonstrated how kindness is not a weakness but a gift.
- A business owner showed me grit and overcoming odds before achieving success (“my wife and I used to eat boxed macaroni and cheese . . . that’s all we could afford”).
- A sports medicine physician displayed how to bring a vision to life.
- An online entrepreneur and innovator who gives back to his community.
- A sports physical therapist, professor, and research guru who is the epitome of a sports physical therapist and consistently demonstrates leading by example.
You will notice that only one of the eight mentors above is a physical therapist. Why does this matter? You can learn from so many people who can help guide and contribute to all parts of your personal and professional lives.
For me, having a mentor teaches me new things, but the relationship also motivates and instills confidence. Can you be successful without a mentor? Of course you can. But for me, having these people in my life means so very much to me and I know that each played a big role in helping me become the person I am today.
It’s the journey, dude.
I will never forget my first mentor telling me that. It’s not about where you end up, it’s about the experiences you have that get you to that destination. Cervantes said that “the journey is better than the inn.” I believe that wholeheartedly. So have a destination in mind, but enjoy the experience, enjoy the journey that leads you to that place.
To Sign Up for Mentoring
I enjoy working with people and watching them achieve their goals.
If you are interested in working with me on your career (including interviews and plans) or specific patient questions or exercise program design, please click here to learn about the different options and to sign up.