Example of a bad mentor: John Menghini

You are probably wondering what does this topic have to do with running shorts with pockets?  Well, it doesn’t really.  This is only an informative piece for the runners who are looking to achieve their potential and goals.  Our goal here is to provide relevant content to that just as our shorts help you achieve that while you’re grinding it out.

Why would a grown man need a mentor?  Is it a sign of weakness?  No, it is a trait of a good leader.  Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, and insert just about any professional athlete accomplished their potential with the help and support of someone.  Having someone there to motivate and support can be the difference of success or failure.   Mentors are there for a sounding board to discuss and analyze problems.  They can provide direction and help you achieve goals.  I cannot emphasize the strength of the motivation that is cultivated.  I thought I had I mentor throughout my running career only to find that there was no substance to it even after 10 plus years.  What happens when you realize that someone you looked up to no longer wants to be a part of your life?  It can be devastating, depression, drugs, disorders… the list can go anywhere.  Below are some warning signs to help avoid this.

Signs of a Bad Mentor

  • Not Being There: If they constantly tell you how busy they are, then realize they just hold you to a lower priority.
  • Lack of Respect:  Do they want to do everything on their terms?  Is communication only when it is convenient for them?
  • Not Taking Action:  If you reach out for help and they are too busy or simply say you need help?  If they tell you go seek help elsewhere, then do it. Yes, it is difficult but realize you will be confiding in someone who actually cares.
 John Menghini

John Menghini, former mentor of Tim McGargill

I have had the privilege of being a mentor to someone.  Helping him throughout such an important time in life in college as he discovers more of who he is, being there to discuss relationships, and being there for rehabilitating and coping with a life threating brain injury has been truly amazing.  Full story can be found here: https://www.omaha.com/news/local/omaha-bicyclist-critically-injured-when-hit-by-mirror-of-passing/article_81ecdccd-5a34-5fe0-ab5a-ed9764c5573e.html  While I am not implying that I am a good mentor, they are just signs of someone who actually cares.  It was never a question of what I should do to help Malik and his family.  Being there every day from the ICU to the rehabilitation discharge was where I knew I belonged.  I learned so much from such an amazing family.

Malik recovering after brain injury

Signs of a good mentor

  • Treats You as an Equal:  Mentors should actually want to spend time with you.  They are a friend just like any other person.  They will make the call or text to do something.  More importantly, you should never feel intrusive for reaching out to them.
  • Respects You for Who You Are:  No one is perfect, and we all have our flaws.  A good mentor will not look down at you or treat you differently.  They will respect you and treat you just as they would like to be treated.  Respect is paramount in any friendship or relationship.
  • Willing to Take the Extra Step:  We all have our own stories about what we are trying to accomplish.  Generally, those who have a mentor are working to do things out of the ordinary.  This means they could use a little help.  It is one thing for a mentor to periodically send you a text to see how things are going.  However, when you both live in the same city, that mentor should have the decency to engage you.  If failures or setbacks occur, a mentor will seek you out to work through the difficult situation.  There is nothing more disgraceful to be helping a friend in the hospital while my mentor was too busy celebrating early retirement.  Especially when I admitted that I needed help.

Malik and Tim

Taking Action

A mentor should be the mature figure who looks past themselves to help someone.  They should be able to have the courage and respect to be a leader to someone who looks up to them.  This means if they sense something is out of balance that they actually care to help, even if it means sacrificing some extra time.  A good mentor will admit fault and own up to their actions.

If there is an argument, the mentor needs to be bigger man and address it.  This does not mean that they always have to support the mentee’s actions or agree with them.  The mentor needs to have the courage to address the situation in a constructive manner.  Simply walking away and halting communication is not the right approach.  It is the easiest way to avoid the conflict, but it is not the character quality that any half decent person would want show and live their life with.  If I were to just walk away from someone who looked up me, I know I could not live with that on my chest.  The nice things about humans is that we can show compassion and forgiveness.  The friendship may not be the same as they were, but there is no reason things couldn’t move forward in a different direction.  Mentors have the privilege to impart who they are to someone outside of their familial obligations.

If you can find someone who is willing to help support you, you should take it.  Now you will have the knowledge to avoid any harmful situations and soak in the experiences to their fullest.