You’ve probably heard the saying, “No man is an island.” There is a lot of truth to this statement. While we like to think we can do it all on our own, the hard truth is that we need help sometimes. In fact, we probably need help more often than we like to admit. This is especially true in the health and fitness industry. Think of the person you look up to most in the fitness world—whoever they are, I can guarantee you that they didn’t get to where they are by simply flying solo their whole life. They needed help to build their business, teach and coach more effectively, and grow their brand to the next level. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you won’t also need help in the future.
No matter where you’re at in your career, you need a mentor. And if you’re just starting out in the fitness industry, you definitely need a mentor. It’s immensely helpful to have someone close to you who is willing to tell you when you’re wrong, help you build a new program or product to release, recommend books and podcasts that have helped them, and introduce you to other people and brands that are a good fit to collaborate with. Let’s just put it this way: it pays to have someone with experience and connection on your side. Besides, you never know how the two of you can work together successfully in the future.
Now the question is, how do you choose the right mentor for yourself? Because there is such a thing as being mentored by someone who isn’t a good fit for you. You have to make sure you select wisely so that neither of you end up wasting your time. Here are five tips to ensure you pick the right mentor for yourself.
Choose Someone With Similar Interests
If you’re a trainer who wants to specialize in injury prevention, injury treatment, and injury rehabilitation, it’s probably not the best idea to ask a kettlebell specialist to be your mentor. That doesn’t mean this kettlebell specialist isn’t an expert—it just means that you’re not the right fit for each other. There has to be some major interests and fields that overlap in order for the relationship to be worth your while.
Additionally, it’s important to pick a mentor who you have a personal connection with. If you share some major similar interests already, it probably wouldn’t be hard to establish a connection between the two of you.
Pick a Person With a Career You Find Attractive
There are all sorts of success stories in the fitness industry. Some people are entrepreneurs who run their own successful company, others are online trainers who have a dynamite brand, and some make their way by producing frequently downloaded content (podcast, blog, etc.). There are all sorts of different ways to be successful—and there isn’t a right or wrong way to get there. Before you choose a person to ask to be your mentor, figure out which one of these success stories sounds best to you. Do you want to run a company? Do you want to train online? Do you want to travel and teach workshops in different places? Ask yourself what you want your future to look like so you can decide who to learn from.
Your mentor doesn’t have to have the exact career you want in the future, but there should be a good number of characteristics about their current professional life that is attractive to you, like the freedom they have with their schedule, the type of workshops and courses they teach, the sort of company they run, etc. Choose someone that leads a life you wouldn’t mind leading yourself. The more similarities you have in passion and interest, the more likely it will be a fruitful relationship.
Ask Them Out For a Casual Coffee First
Wine and dine them before you declare them a mentor. It’s a two-way street; you can’t just expect someone to be your mentor if they aren’t interested in the idea. Ask them out for a casual meeting, like a coffee or a quick lunch. After you get comfortable with each other, be upfront. Tell them what your intentions are, tell them what you admire about them, and then politely ask if they want to embark on a mentor-mentee relationship with you.
Maintain Communication, but Don’t Be a Pest
Your mentor has a lot on their plate. While they want to be helpful to you, they can’t exactly drop everything on their agenda and answer all your calls and needs at the drop of a hat. While it’s perfectly acceptable to reach out whenever you need help, use your discernment to recognize when they’re really busy and maybe don’t have the time to get back to you right away. It’s ok to follow up with them after a little while, but don’t be that annoying mentee who sends email after email and texts or calls every single day. Honor their space and their busy schedule—and always be appreciative of the time they’re setting out for you.
Don’t Set Your Expectations Too High
It’s easy to have extremely high expectations from your mentor. You dream of them introducing you to your idols, helping you create the most kick-ass logo and brand, and taking you for all kinds of exciting trips and workouts. While these things may happen, don’t get your hopes up too high about your relationship with your mentor. The last thing you want is to be disappointed or let down by your mentor, especially when they have your best interests in mind and they’re doing their best to support you. Be realistic with your expectations—and you’re bound to be happy with the results!