HIGH PERFORMANCE WEST

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Ask For Help — A Case For Mentors

 High Performance West Director  Jonathan Marcus  (left) with friend and mentor, University of Portland Men's Cross Country/Track & Field Head Coach, Rob Conner. 

High Performance West Director Jonathan Marcus (left) with friend and mentor, University of Portland Men's Cross Country/Track & Field Head Coach, Rob Conner. 

As coaches, we must learn as much as we possibly can. Doing so is far more important than any result your athletes and teams achieve. Coaches are teachers. We are entrusted as educators of athletes and have a duty to pass on our knowledge. 

A constant, intense, ongoing self-directed study of "the world" is essential to teaching well.  You must fortify yourself with diverse, new knowledge daily to be of value to your charge. This is why continuous study and self-improvement is paramount to coaching better. All the great coaches share this impulse for rigorous study. It is what keeps them on the cutting edge.

What paralyzes many is the mechanics of how to design a course of education when it is outside of an institution or certification program. 

You needn't go it alone. 
My advice: find mentors in the areas you want to learn. 

From mentors, you will learn much information, but more importantly, they will bring a field to life for you. They will teach you how to find quality material, separating signal from noise.  They will expose you to their framing and nurture you to develop your own model through which to interpret your craft. They will encourage independent thought divergent from their own. The best mentors are ones who are open, knowledgeable, and experienced, allowing you to learn immense amounts very quickly. 

I am thankful for my mentors both current and past. Without them, I would not be the coach, husband, or man I am today. Although I have grown distant from several, some remain close friends and trusted allies upon whom I call frequently. 

Which brings me to my next point about mentors, the best way to find one: ask. It really is that simple.  

Pick up the phone. Send a text. Fire off a tweet. Ask a coach you respect who has more years and/or diversity of experience than you if you can pick their brain, get their advice, or buy them coffee/lunch. Each of those tactics I have employed successfully to engage my chosen mentors. 

Since this course of education is self-directed, you must seek out and go to your mentors, they will not come to you. Know the reward for your courage to request guidance will be a rapid growth that far outpaces any advancement you could acquire from books, clinics, videos, or conferences.

The fast track to getting better is a quick phone call away. All you have to do is take the first step and ask for help. 

 

Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm

Jonathan Marcus