4 July 2016

Lawrence Jones

Our daughter Coco – a future tennis pro!

Wimbledon is in full flow and the tennis is certainly a welcome distraction from our limited footballing success and the political woes – it’s a chance for us to feel proud to be British again!

Tennis is an interesting game. There’s only a select few who are at the top of their game, working hard to stay where they are, because new talent is always just around the corner. Just look at Centre Court when multi-millionaire Federer played the British number 23 who, according to the BBC, has only earned £220 this year and had to be persuaded by his other half to keep playing professionally.

Last week I watched Andy Murray win his first match in an all-British start to the competition, which saw the Scottish world number 2 and the Liam Broady, the wild card from Stockport, go head to head. We’re a sponsor of Liam’s and were incredibly proud to see him on the biggest tennis stage playing Murray. What an incredible opportunity.

There have already been a few big shocks when, especially with Djokavic’s latest defeat – it’s opened the tournament right up.

However, while most eyes are on the action on court, mine are focussed off-court. For me, Wimbledon this year is just as much about those who sit on the plastic benches as those playing on the grass court. It’s fantastic to see tennis legends such as Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe return to Wimbledon, but this time as sporting mentors.

Ivan Lendl is there trying to keep Murray’s head cool while McEnroe is spurring on Milos Raonic. Both of these mentors are both former world number ones, yet they have very different mentoring styles. During the Queen’s tennis tournament a few weeks ago, Lendl was certainly far less excitable than McEnroe. He even left an empty seat during Murray’s trophy presentation!

Often it is these people off the court who are having the greatest impact on what happens on the court. Having the right mindset, the focus and the support is just as essential as the physical fitness.

Mentors are one of the best ways to learn and evolve. What’s better than learning lessons from those who have been there themselves? Why would those at the top of their game continue to look to others for advice? You could ask the same question of businesses and entrepreneurs.

I am a huge advocate of mentoring, both in business and sport. We have a successful scheme here at UKFast that has produced several amazing members of our leadership team and has helped people to grow and fulfil their potential.

I was once told that a good mentor should tell you what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear.

Whilst a strong relationship with mentors is important to ensure that there is trust and honesty, and they are more than happy to help those who are willing to learn and grow quickly, they are not there to be your friend or greatest fan. Mentors are there to keep you focussing on the right goals.

I’ve often discussed the benefits of finding a mentor when setting up a business, but I believe that mentors are also extremely valuable later on in the entrepreneurial journey. We never know what is around the next corner. Arming ourselves with knowledge from others, strong relationships and people who we aspire to be like is essential to being prepared for whatever is next.

For example, when I have a big business decision to make, I tend to look to my peers for advice. There is great value in learning from both the successes and the mistakes of others – it’s where innovation and improvement starts.

What do you think about mentorship? Do you have a mentor? Or are you a mentor?

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