Why You Need A Mentor to be Successful

by Dan Gheesling

“Nothing great was ever accomplished alone.” For every goal I have achieved in my life, I can trace back each goal to a mentor or individual who helped achieve it.

This past weekend I traveled to Columbus, OH for one our football games this season. During the trip I had a chance to meet up with someone who I have considered a mentor in my life.  It had been a while since I last saw him, but after catching up, I was reminded how important he, as well as other mentors, have been in my life.  More importantly this inspired me to share how important a mentor can be in your life.


A Mentor Will Get You Started

Whatever it is that you want to accomplish in life, a mentor is going to kick start you on the path to achieve it.  By far the hardest part of accomplishing anything is getting started.  We all have dreams and goals, but until we make a move to act on them, they will always remain just a dream or a goal.

With Coach Haynes (my football mentor) I simply asked him what it would take to become a collegiate football coach, and he told me exactly what I needed to do.

Because I asked him how to get started, there was no excuse for me to say, “I don’t know how to become a college football coach” or “where do I begin” because it was clearly defined for me by someone who has already been there.

Mentors can provide a spark, or simple path of guidance to push you to take that first step in accomplishing your goal.


You Learn From Someone Who Walks The Walk

When you have a mentor, you are learning from someone who has already arrived at where you want to be.  They know exactly what it takes to get there and what sacrifices need to be made.

You also have the rare opportunity to see what it would be like to be in the shoes you want to be in. By having a mentor who is where you want to end up, you can see first hand what their day to day experience is.  This is extremely helpful in figuring out if you really want to go down that path. After actually being involved in college football for a few years, it gave me enough experience to decide whether or not I wanted to pursue it for my life.

Experience is an invaluable tool.  Experience can’t be purchased, it can only be earned, or shared. A great mentor will share their experience with you to help you achieve your goal in the best possible way they know how.


Mentors Will Build Your Confidence

Anytime you start on a path towards something new, there is going to be a lot of uncertainty within yourself along the way. That’s natural.  Most people can overcome that uncertainty by themselves. Others can’t. This uncertainty becomes a heck of a lot easier to overcome if you have a mentor.  Why?  Because they help to build confidence.

The uncertainty for me was that I didn’t play college football, and I saw that most college coaches had a track record of playing collegiate ball.  That was a hurdle in my mind to becoming a coach, that was of course, until I was told it did not matter at all. Hearing that from my mentor was all I needed to get past it.

Simple words of encouragement, an e-mail with a little different perspective, or even just knowing that you have the support of someone in your back pocket can help build your confidence.

You don’t always know the ways a mentor can boost your confidence because it can come from many different angles, that’s how it happened for me.


A Resource For Life

When you have a mentor, they really become your mentor for life.  It does not matter if you move up and on, that connection will still always be there.  Once you have “made it” there never becomes a point where you know it all and don’t need any more help.

Even though Coach Haynes moved onto Ohio State while I stayed back at Michigan State, I still talked to him on a regular basis.  I would still call and ask for help on certain things and even just call to check to see how things were going.

When you have a mentor out there, they will always be looking out for you, no matter what the situation is.  Sometimes a job might pop open your mentor might think is perfect for you.  Sometimes your mentor may even be looking to hire someone themselves. An what type of person do you think they are looking to hire?  Someone they know and trust on a personal level.

There came a point when I knew I did not want to coach college football.  I did know that I wanted to teach and coach high school football instead.  The problem was I knew more college coaches than high school coaches, and the high school coaches I did know could not get me into their school.

Coach Haynes knew I was looking to get into a high school, so he kept an eye out for me.  It just so happened that Coach Haynes recruited at St. Mary’s and asked their head coach if they were looking for an assistant coach.  He got me the interview with the Head Coach, which lead to a teaching and coaching position, and from there the rest is history.

The point is I never would have ended up at St. Mary’s if Coach Haynes was not my mentor.  I would not have had a connection to the school, nor would I have known if they were looking for an assistant coach.  But having a mentor isn’t just a one way benefit street.

St. Mary’s Football.


Show Appreciation

Any good (and smart) mentor is not going to take time out of their busy life to invest into you for free.  You don’t have to pay your mentor financially, but you need to offer them some value in return for their time.

For me it was running copies of playbooks, then it translated into copying down passing routes, then it was helping break down film, etc etc.  Each task I was given to help my mentor out, helped to free up his time, and in exchange I got a first hand experience in how to coach college football.

It is extremely important you do your best work on any task your mentor asks you to do (no matter how meaningless you may think it is at the time).  If not only for the fact that someday they may hire you, but also because it is your repayment to your mentor for the priceless experience they share with you.

Looking back on all the random things I did for Coach Haynes – I can sit back now and see that each task I completed helped me to learn something new along the way.

Be sure to show appreciation for someone investing their time to mentor you. Writing a hand written thank you note goes a long way.  Pick up the phone and thank them later on in life.  Or you can simply let them know if they ever need anything, they can always give you a call. Be thankful for the direction they give you, because it is invaluable.

Six years later, I think he aged better than me.


So How Do I Find A Mentor?

There are a few quick ways to get started in finding a mentor:

1. Ask Your Friends & Family – the best way to find a mentor is through someone you already know. Someone vouching for you can save you a lot of time and hard work up front of having to track one down yourself.

2. Pound the Pavement – shoot out e-mails, call people in the field/hobby/area of interest you want a mentor in.  Offer them your time, services, skills, in exchange for 30 minutes of time to pick their brain.  No task is too small! If they need help with yard work, grab your rake!

3. Hire One – there are professional coaches and mentors in almost every area you can think of. A lot of them are for hire, and make a living helping people succeed. This is what I truly enjoy doing!


Go Find One!

Don’t wait around. If there is something you want to accomplish and need that extra push, work on finding a mentor RIGHT NOW.  I’m lucky to have a lot of mentors in my life. Coaching Football, Writing, Real Estate Investing, Teaching, even Big Brother, I have all had people I look to for advice and help, and I am grateful for all of them.

At some point, you will become an expert in your area, and someone will come to you and ask for help. Can you be their great mentor? Just like your’s is to you? I hope you take the opportunity to pay it forward.

Do you already have a mentor? How did you find your mentor? Not sure where to start? I’d love to read your comments below!

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    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as
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  • Marcia ODell

    Hi my name is Marcia I need to find a football mentor for my son. He has no idea I am doing this, but he needs help. he is an excellent ball player who is going through a tough time at the moment… I strongly believe if he has a mentor who has played the sport, or is playing football would have a great impact in his life.
    I have submitted my e-mail address, please let me know what you can do, or what direction you can guide to.
    Thank You

  • Marissa Titus

    I agree that mentors are a valuable asset in life’s struggles. Growing up I had many mentors that have gotten me to where I am today. I believe that it is a must for anyone growing up to have a mentor experience such as the Football mentor you included in your writing.

  • Thomas Gooch

    We believe that it takes a lot more than just being a coach than being a
    great mentor. We take a unique approach in achieving that. We combine
    personal coaching, consulting and training with the development and
    strengthening of essential coaching skills, practices and competencies
    so that you become a masterful coach with a fulfilling practice, while
    maintaining a balanced and extraordinary life you love.

    It’s my personal view that great mentors can change you life positively. I recommend Marlene Stokes, she is a professional training coach and is a great mentor. You can visit her website at http://www.marlenestokes.com.

  • Pragati Manjunath

    Very nicely put across! :)
    I work with a company named Sherpify which bridges the gap between the Students and Industries through our Online Mentoring Platform.
    When we take the feedback from Students post the mentoring session it makes us feel really happy to know that Students have started taking their career seriously and working towards the goals and improving their skills, knowledge and abilities to join their dream company!
    And do check out our website- http://www.sherpify.com

  • Wafa M Labadi

    Enjoyed the read.

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