Using a mentor to improve
Maybe you are a young coach that have just started and want to learn as much as possible as fast as possible. Or maybe you’re a coach who wants to move on to a higher level or a coaching job with more responsibility. If you’ve read books about leadership your reason for wanting a mentor could be because that’s what it says in the book. You could also be one of those people who want to be an ”overnight success” story and use a mentor to hack the process and make that elusive step to the spotlight tomorrow. As you understand the reasons for wanting and/or needing a mentor can differ.
However, having a mentor does not mean that you don’t have to do the work. If you are lucky to find a good mentor it will probably be the opposite. A mentor inspires you to do more, influences you to do better while avoiding the mistakes that your mentor has already made for you. This mentor thing sounds pretty good right? But now the question that might be going through your brain is ’how on earth do I get a mentor?’.
There are basically two ways to be mentored. The traditional way is to have a more experienced coach as a mentor that you can talk to, someone who gives you advice and asks you high quality questions that makes you reflect upon your own practice. However, there are only so many experienced coaches that have the quality you are looking for and have the time to be a mentor for a coach as your self. In addition the really good mentors are already very busy since they are good at what they do. If you are lucky enough to find an experienced coach who is willing to help you by being your mentor this is of course the best way to go.
But, if you don’t have the possibility to find this mentor, should you just give up on the thought of using a mentor to improve yourself? No, absolutely not. You have mentors all around you every day on every level of coaching, but you may not be aware of it. Let your horrible head coach and that obnoxious coach on the other team be your mentors. Take note of what these coaches do and observe what the consequence of their actions are. Listen to what they say in meetings and interactions with players, coaches and other people while observing the response of those who they interact with, and take note. If what they say or do works according to your observations, then you have received advice from your (unintentional) mentor. If it doesn’t, it’s equally valuable for you since you now know what not to do in that situation. Let other peoples mistakes help your learning process by avoiding to make the same mistakes.
So don’t get discouraged if you do not have access to an experienced coach to mentor you. Make someone else in your surrounding your unintentional mentor by observing their actions and behavior while you take notes. Analyze those notes and take away important learning points that can help you improve as a coach. Let them make the mistakes so that you don’t have to. This unintentional mentor could turn out to be your biggest source of learning, so start observing, take notes and analyze today.
P.S If you are a young coach looking for someone to help you out, send me an e-mail and I’ll see what I can do for you. D.S