9 July 2017

With a house full of girls I’ve escaped to the Garden in Hale, a real favourite set up by a couple of friends, one who used to work at UKFast.  It’s fantastic place and I’d highly recommend it.

The question on my mind this morning ahead of Tech Manchester’s official opening event next week is:
‘How important is mentoring?’

Helping out at England Squash ahead of the World Championships with Laura Massaro

Helping out at England Squash ahead of the World Championships with Laura Massaro

I was asked to talk with the England Squash team before they set sail to the World Championships in New Zealand. It was a tricky appointment to fit in as it fell on my daughter Poppy’s birthday and although Gail had booked Giraffe feeding at Chester Zoo, I felt it important to support the team too. After all it’s a huge honour to help anyone representing our great country, let alone a whole team.

I had my usual start to my Saturday with an intense game of squash with great friend and colleague, Joe. It was the perfect start to the day, giving us time to discuss what I should talk to the team about.

Heading to the National Squash Centre at the Ethiad Stadium afterwards, I was excited to meet the girls and hear how  they are feeling. I already know Laura well, obviously, as I have worked with her for a number of years, alongside that I have started working with Lucy who is the England number one at Junior level.

It was great fun and lovely to know I am helping. I have learned a great deal on my journey and to be able to share my the secrets with people on a similar quest pushing the boundaries is hugely rewarding. Aiming to be the best at something is never easy and it can be a lonely place at times because there are very few people prepared to climb above the clouds where the air is thin and the consequences of slipping are fatal.

This is precisely why it’s important to lend a helping hand and be there for the next generation who have that adventure and hunger in them.

If I am honest, I got into mental conditioning because I wanted to test the theory that I’d put into practice to see if it worked across other areas and not just business. It was essential I tested it in sport because competition at the highest level is final. There can only be one winner, only one number one. It was the ultimate test.

Like most things in my life, once I’d decide on something the opportunity presented itself. I met Laura Massaro by chance before a squash training session in a small club in Didsbury. I’m not going to tell you our story, that’s sacred and still very much a secret and maybe one for a book in years to come when she retires from squash, but that will not be for some time as the pair of us have a great deal of work ahead.

All I can tell you is that we proved together that my theory, which continues to help UKFast grow in business terms, works in sport too. In the two phases of working with Laura, first she became World Champion and the second she hit there outrageous goal to became World Number One.

The importance of mentoring and teaching is not just to improve the individual or team mates who you are helping, it also ensures you improve too. Before teaching anyone anything, the first thing you must do is prepare. That preparation and time to reflect is where the magic happens, where the epiphany, the moment of realisation resides. If you never stop and think, you will miss the magic.

Socretes famously said,  “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” What Socretes misses out, is that it makes the teacher think too.

Driving away from the National Squash Centre and heading to Chester Zoo gave me the perfect time to reflect on what I’d said, what I’d learned personally and how my talk will impact on the team and their performance as individuals and as a tighter knit group. It’s a great feeling helping others. To get anyone to improve in anything, first you have to get them to commit to raising their own standards. This has to be across every area of their life and requires huge sacrifice. To have fellow teammates encouraging each other to stay in the moment and  keep to their plan is vital to team success. It is lovely to see Laura passing on what she is learning from me and from her own experiences as an extraordinary athlete. Her giving nature is so infectious and I am so proud of being part of the inspiration that she is handing down to the juniors.

Feeding the giraffes at Chester Zoo wth my daughters

Feeding the giraffes at Chester Zoo wth my daughters

The good news is I didn’t end up in the dog house. Somehow I made it to the giraffe enclosure and thanks to Chester Zoo (one of our amazing clients at UKFast) for delaying the experience for a few minutes while I sprinted to be there on time. Being there with Poppy on her birthday, feeding these majestic animals was a  great moment that I will always treasure.

One top tip if you want to accelerate your own success: It’s something anyone can do and you can start today and never look back, if you dare. Make the conscious decision to cram more in to every day than you have ever done before. You know those crazy days when you don’t have a minute and get home late, collapse in a heap and wonder, “how on earth?!” Well what if every day is like that?

Think about it logically, if you make an extra 20 calls in a day and extra 10 meetings in a week, 5 extra work out sessions in a month, one extra holiday in a year. Imagine how much luckier you will start to be! How much more fun will you have?

Just remember when you are pushing yourself, getting a mentor will help you enormously and whatever level you are at, there are always others who are not quite at your level.

Search out people on your journey that will benefit from your help. Stop, don’t walk by, ask them if they need a hand?

Last week I blogged about business karma and this is part of the formula that changed my life drastically and turned me from a failing entrepreneur to “a work in progress” whirlwind businessman on a mission.

So whatever your plans today, supersize them! Add an extra few things in. Go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air, ring your mum, get the BBQ on and when the house is a tip, finish the day by taking your family or your loved one out for dinner. Whatever picture you chose to paint make it a big happy bright one and have an amazing week ahead.

Best LJ

PS. To get involved with Tech Manchester reach out to Trish she will love to hear from you.

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