Peter Schroeder


The Importance of Having a Mentor

As one mentorship comes to a close, cherish it for everything it was and then move on to the next one.

Today I was at the gym working out. I just started doing CrossFit a few months ago in an attempt to expedite, maximize efficiency, and create a more well-rounded workout routine.

The newer routine starts by waking up at 4:45 in the morning and heading to the gym to start working out by 5:00 am. Since I’m not a morning person by nature, being consistent can be a struggle.

Never the less, I get up and get after it as often as I can. Since CrossFit is meant to be a well-rounded workout, there are a lot of lifts, and some of them are pretty complex.

Take for example the power snatch. The lift looks immaculately fluent when executed to perfection. In essence a barbell with weights gets lifted off of the floor and rapidly float up over your head, where you hold it for a second — all from one mighty jerk of the body.

Now, back to today. I was at CrossFit this morning, and up on the screen, I see that we’re doing power snatches. Over the past few months I’ve done this lift countless times, but every time I end up looking like a 5th grader lifting for the first time rather than an Olympic athlete.

(Don’t get me wrong, the goal isn’t to look like an Olympic athlete. The goal is to have great form and let the lift work the muscles it’s supposed to work.)

Today started no differently. I jumped over the bar and threw up a pathetic amount of weight in an uncoordinated fashion. Luckily, today was the least crowded day since I started going and there were only 3 of us there.

The instructor sat there, watched me once, and approached me.

He said, “Two things. One, widen your grip at least two more inches. This way, the bar has to travel less to get over your head. Two, start with your feet at shoulder width apart. Then, the momentum from pulling up the bar should create a slight jumping motion. When this happens, shift your feet to the squat position and stand up with the bar over your head.”

I went back to the bar with his suggestions in mind, got in position, and tossed the bar over my head easier than I ever had before. This slight adjustment had taken me from elementary lifting to the Arnold Schwarzenegger of power snatching. (Slight exaggeration)

What’s not an exaggeration is the positive effects mentors can have on your life. The event that transpired this morning brought me to a few realizations.

Someone Has Already Made The Mistakes For You

While I spent upwards of 4 months trying to perfect my lifts by myself pathetically, there was someone who already knew what they were doing. My gains were small, and my form hardly improved from trying to do everything by myself.

Then along came someone who knew what they were doing and they fixed my form in an instant. I thought to myself, “If this was so easy to correct, what other parts of my life can I apply this to?”

What other things am I doing day to day that a mentor could teach me in an instant? It made me think back to when I first got started in my career, and I had some fantastic mentors that taught me so much. These mentors ended up helping me by chance, but who’s to say that I’ll get to be so lucky in the future?

The fact that has become abundantly clear to me is if I was to get better going forward, I need to seek out mentors that I know will help me get better.

Expand Your Horizon

I have alluded to this in the past, but I am a true believer that when you get comfortable, you start to die. If you aren’t doing things to make yourself better, then you’re slowly getting worse.

Most people think that once they finish school, they are done learning, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Being a perpetual learner is essential.

The most efficient way to get better is through mentorship. As one mentorship comes to a close, cherish it for everything it was and then move on to the next one.

Never stop learning, never stop getting mentored, and never stop pushing forward.

On the flip side of the coin, if you are in the position to — offer your mentorship to those who could benefit from it. I couldn’t tell you where I would be without so many wonderful mentors in my life and we can never have enough of them. One day I hope to return the favor to anyone I can, and I hope those of you privileged enough will opt to do the same.

More by Peter Schroeder

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