Success doesn’t happen overnight, and it definitely doesn’t happen without hard work.
Just because it takes time, effort, and sacrifice doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
As I’m diving more and more into my “Creating an Elevated Environment” series, I’ve been having a lot of time to reflect on how I got to the place I’m at today. You don’t just wake up one day with all of the skills and lessons for success at your disposal, it takes time, energy, and failure to get that far. Success isn’t something that comes easily, and if it did, it wouldn’t mean as much as it does.
So, how did I get here? I’m running multiple businesses, live a healthy lifestyle, and have a strong and meaningful relationship with my family and myself. I’d say that counts as being pretty successful. When I think about my journey to this point, I’m drawn back to a conversation I had with Dr. Edwin Adams on his podcast, “The Aesthetics of Leadership,” which you can read about here. We talked about the mentors I’ve had in my life that helped me become the person I needed to be in order to succeed in life. There are a lot of people that taught me important lessons in life, and they weren’t just about business either.
What is a mentor and why are they important?
Mentors can look different to different people. To me, a mentor is someone, usually older than you, that has extensive experience and guides you along your path in life. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a mentor to help you do better in your field or if it’s someone to confide in and learn from for your personal life, mentors are there to give you vital insight and advice to be the best version of you possible.
As far as careers go, an article from Indeed states that mentors are important for learning how to perform tasks the right way and make sure you’re getting the right training and skills to do your job. They also hold you accountable when you make mistakes and offer solutions for improvement, which, if you’ve been following the blog, you know is really important to me. I think the only effective way to grow is to have practical steps to take to improve yourself at the moment. Having someone with real-world experience like a mentor to give advice the second a mistake is made, or even before it happens in the first place, is going to give you better results than if you were trying to navigate things alone.
Forbes describes mentors as figures that are able to help you break through barriers that are keeping you down, help you get your bearings in a new setting, and help to energize and build the business at every level through guidance.
Personally, I think there are a ton of benefits to having and even being a mentor. Understanding the importance of mentorship is key for anyone looking to succeed in any field or business out there.
Mentors come in many forms. They could be a friend, a coworker, a church-leader, a coach, or even a parent. I’ve had many mentors in my lifetime, all teaching me skills and lessons I’ve carried with me throughout my entire life. I think the best way to show the things I’ve gained from my mentors is to break it down into the main areas of my life that they impacted: my personal life, my professional life, and my aspirations in life.
When it comes to mentors that helped me grow in my personal life, my dad is by far the biggest and most impactful mentor I’ve ever had. He inspired me in so many ways and left such a huge impact on me it’s hard to even put in words. To give you a little context, my dad was a widely respected football coach for a long time. He coached in Georgia for about 10 years and he’s even in the Alabama Hall of Fame, so a lot of his time was spent out on the field with his teams. Growing up, we were always really close, which is probably why he was able to teach me as much as he did. It wasn’t just me he was teaching, though. He had this energy that made people want to listen to everything he said and take it to heart. It’s been less than a year since I lost him and every day I appreciate the lessons he taught me even more than when I first learned them. Parents teach us a lot about life, our goals, passions, ethics, and values. He taught me the importance of family and legacy, which has inspired me to be the father and husband I am today, one that keeps learning and growing to be better than the day before.
My dad taught me a lot, especially when it comes to being a coach, but he’s not the only person in my life I learned important skills and lessons from. Ted Darby, my technical quarterback coach from high school, gave me a lot of useful insight into what it means to be a leader. He taught me so much at such a young age that I was able to mold my own approach to leadership early on and form the teams I needed to succeed in life and get me to this point.
Pat Sullivan was another really influential figure in my life that taught me skills for the professional world. He was my quarterback coach in college and he taught me what it means to truly understand humility and passion. If you want to live a happy, balanced, and successful life, you have to stay humble even when you start to have all your hard work pay off. I’ve also learned that your drive and passion are a huge part of what keeps you going, especially when things get tough. Oh, and he also taught me how to make some of the best steak I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever make it any other way than how he taught me.
Finally, Todd Straud taught me the importance of networking and making connections. Todd has worked in D-1 football for years, so he definitely has a huge professional network. He was the first person to give me a job in college and the things he taught me, I’ve carried with me in every part of my career up to this point. He showed me how having a large, strong network and making lasting connections with others can propel you further than you would expect, which is why I think making real connections with people in business is so important.
Finally, some of the mentors in my life have done a lot when it comes to my aspirations. My dad, of course, played a huge role in how I go about things. Because of him, I have a strong grasp on what it means to work-hard, and that’s why it’s one of the qualities I value the most in myself. Mark Trussman is another person that taught me a lot about life. He’s a football coach that’s worked in the NFL, CFL, and college football. He’s also a successful lawyer with a variety of skills. To me, someone that uses his interests and talents to his benefit rather than forcing himself to stick to any one thing is inspirational. I’ve found over time that letting yourself explore the things that give you purpose will inevitably bring you to your destination, so it’s better to take those chances than to stay stuck in one place. He’s taught me to be myself and build my life to work for me, not the other way around, and I couldn’t even imagine the state I’d be in if I hadn’t learned that when I did.
Why you should be a mentor to others
Being successful doesn’t just mean you have something that others don’t. To me, part of being successful is sharing that success with the people around you. Once you get to a place of comfort and have learned a lot about the field or business you’re in, the next step is to be a mentor to someone else. You have so much knowledge and insight to give and just like you need mentors to guide you on your path, so do the people that come after you.
With everything that happened with Covid, a lot of people have lost track of their lives. Students are facing struggles that you and I never did. For recent graduates, life has probably been pretty challenging since so many industries couldn’t welcome anyone new and people were lost before they could even begin their careers. These college students and young people were forced to enter an unstable workforce without any guidance, and it has nothing to do with how hard people are willing to work.
The generations entering the workforce now are the future of our economy and industries, and we want them to be in a good place so we can all succeed. If you’re in a place where you can be a mentor to others, I think it’s your duty to preserve the future by guiding others toward success.
It’s not like you won’t benefit from being a mentor, either. In fact, it’s been quite a rewarding experience for me, personally. Being a mentor to others can improve your own communication skills and help you learn even more than you knew before. Plus, if you’re thinking about moving into a new profession or field, acting as a mentor is great for beefing up your CV or resume. It’s very fulfilling and helps you continue to grow in life, which, in my opinion, is the whole point to all of this.
In the end, mentors are a huge part of building success. No matter what stage you’re in for your life or career, there’s always something to learn, something to teach, or something to do. Having or being a mentor can be the thing your life has been missing all this time, so don’t miss out on the opportunities mentorship has to offer.
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