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Mentors. Executive Coaches. Business Coaches. Whatever title you give them, they are all the rage.
And, frankly have been for the last 30 years or so. Smart people, hiring smart(er) people to help them advance. In the gym industry, new ones seem to pop up around every corner, claiming to be able to solve all your problems. And many business owners think – if I can just find the right mentor, my business will prosper.
Not so fast. One person is never the end all, be all for your challenges and pain points.
I recently read an incredibly thought-provoking Forbes article that says, “Despite the corporate world having encouraged mentorship for more than 35 years, it’s an outdated and imperfect model. In this fast-paced world filled with innovations and changing workplaces, you should redirect energy that would go to fostering a mentor relationship and instead find a personal board of advisors and develop a strong network that you own.”
I worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers as a business management consultant, and now run a small business coaching/consulting practice with my partner, so I get it. I understand the whole mentor/coaching mentality. But what I have come to know and absolutely believe is that there is power in more than one. When we work with clients, our effectiveness is essentially doubled because there are two of us in the room addressing the questions, challenges, strategies, or personalities. Two perspectives. Two worlds of experience. Two approaches.
I am working on building another business. Every single day brings with it new challenges. And without a doubt, besides my own personal grit and determination, the single most important contributor to getting me from an idea to a viable company is my network. Last week alone, I had meaningful conversations with three different people who could serve as a “mentor” to me. Each one of these were the type of people I want to emulate. They are driven, successful, influential, kind, interested, humble, and wildly smart. But each one brought to the table different strengths. And weaknesses.
Even all the way back to the Proverbs the sage advice is, ”Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” And then the African proverb claims a similar sentiment, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’d assert that this holds true for a business as well.
At 321Go, we have mentors. And they are strong, kind, humble, wildly smart… all the words listed above. But the power of working with us is not in any one mentor. We are a village. We are a team. We all have different strengths. And weaknesses. One is a master at building processes and systems. One is a marketing guru. One eats, drinks, and sleeps culture and leadership. One is a website building genius. One could answer any and every question about the ever changing landscape of Social Media. You get the point. When you get one of us, you get the strength of the whole team.
None of us individually are nearly as strong as our collective whole.
Be very wary of the one mentor who claims to know everything. Problem there is they know just enough to be dangerous. Very dangerous. Are they smart? Sure, probably in some things. But typically with that assertion comes one perspective, lots of pride, desired control, and shallow amounts of knowledge on a multitude of topics.
In order to take your business to the next level and be successful, you need a team. A “mentor” can be one piece of the pie, but certainly not the whole pie.
This is not a sales pitch for 321Go. Of course, we can (and would love to) help. But, at a minimum, you can (and should) actually form your own team. Get out of your office or out of your gym, and build your network. Think of the people you respect more than most in your town and invite them to coffee, or a workout, or a meal.
Create your own personal board of advisors.
Here are a few of the people I’d recommend being a part of your board:
Another gym owner who you deeply respect.
Really think about this. Don’t choose someone because they “look” good in the public eye, or run a huge gym. I’ve spoken with many gym owners who have deeply impressed me because of their business knowledge, but more so because that business knowledge was coupled with their massive heart.
A successful leader (or two) outside of the gym industry.
A lot can be said for a wise perspective who asks the “dumb” questions. The one who challenges the industry standard because they don’t know the lingo. One certainly doesn’t have to run a CrossFit gym to know how to run a successful business.
Someone older than you with a lot of experience.
With age, (typically) comes wisdom. I’m convinced we don’t spend enough time with the generation who has been there, done that. By the time they’re the “older” ones, they realize it’s more about what you give than what you get. These people are invaluable.
Someone younger than you.
Fresh eyes shine a light on old ways. I’ve spent time with a guy in his twenties as I’m building my business, and to say he’s been instrumental in helping me realize the vision would be a gross understatement.
Someone who may not be around anymore.
This one is a little out of the box, but it’s a person from history, a family member or friend you looked up to, who is not here anymore. When faced with a tough decision, think of how this person would advise you. Their counsel will be clear and resonate with you maybe more than any other.
Once you’ve identified “your people”, formalize your board by writing all their names in one place, creating a consistent plan for reaching out and staying in touch with each one, and taking regular notes on the input they provide. Utilize them when you’re at a crossroads.
What you don’t want is a personal board made up of only people who think like you. A diverse group with different backgrounds will offer you perspectives you otherwise wouldn’t have. Different approaches make you think outside the box for a better solution.
Hire a mentor by all means if that’s what you think you need, but be sure to have a well-rounded group into which your mentor fits nicely as you navigate your way to success.
The people you invite on your board and allow to influence you, will ultimately be the ones who help set the pace of your life. They will and should impact your business, your personal life, your choices.