by Les Hudson
If you are already a GPTA member or have been at one time or another, you already know the GPTA is the most convenient resource available for the tennis-teaching professional who is serious about succeeding. One of the first areas discussed by the 2013 Board of Directors was the important roles mentors have played in so many of our lives. As tennis instructors, coaches and directors, we play the role of Mentor to our students. If you are truly a professional, then you already embrace this responsibility as one of the many privileges of working in our segment of the tennis industry and you already have "Making a Difference" as one of your goals. They say if you write down your goals you increase the chance of reaching them by 90 times. If you've never been mentored by someone, chances are your not mentoring anyone either. I hope you will make it a goal of yours to become involved in the new "Mentorship Program" the GPTA hopes to offer in the near future. But why wait until then? Keep reading to find out how easy it can be to find a Mentor that can change your life…professionally and personally.
The Seeds of Success
Over the years, I've been blessed to have had six very influential mentors in my life…people who helped me to stay on the path of reaching worthy goals and who made a profound difference! Looking back, I can see three reasons why these mentors “signed up” to spend their time investing in me.
1. Do you openly recognize and honor the difference in others and in their abundance of personal character and expertise in the tennis business? This is actually what wisdom is: The ability to recognize the difference in an environment, a moment or a person. Honor is the willingness to reward a person for this difference by inviting him or her into your life. When you begin asking someone out to lunch so you can spend time with him, ask him questions and get to know him, you're affording him the privilege of assisting you in reaching your goals.
2. Are you motivated by asking yourself and others questions? When you're young your questions are more like, what do I want to be? What is my purpose? What is it that God uniquely designed me to do? What are my goals going to be based on this purpose? What am I willing to train for every day? What inspires me that much? If you are more experienced in your field, your questions are oriented towards sustaining what you've worked for: Do I have the motivation? What am I doing to stay excited about my profession? Am I continuing to grow professionally? Am I balancing my time appropriately so I can continue growing personally and spiritually?
3. Are you willing to set goals bigger than what you feel comfortable with and take on more responsibility than you think you might be able to handle? If so, you will need a mentor!
The Gift of Knowledge
Who is competent enough to coach you regarding the future you've been discussing with God? Who's helping to inspire you, keeping you focused so you can reach your goal? Keep asking questions…because your questions qualify you for receiving. Vince Lombardi once said, "Excellence determines your quality of life!" If this is true, and I believe it is, then mentorship can help determine the quality of one’s future. The price, however, that you yourself are willing to pay to reach your goals will determine who is willing to mentor you, to talk to you and to teach you.
Who is willing to mentor you? It is generally accepted that there are no shortcuts in life. A mentor may be the one exception to that rule. You can often learn in a few hours what it took a trusted mentor years and years to find out. Mentorship allows you to learn through the pain of another…the losses someone else has experienced. How many of you know that experience is the slowest way of learning?
The Shortcut to Success
A mentor is not just a teacher, but a trusted teacher. A mentor is a leader…not as cheerleader! A gifted mentor models a better way…sometimes shows us the correct way. This is why I believe that the best teachers are leaders…we lead people to believe they can achieve more than what they dream. We lead people, not manage them! This is why we, as tennis teachers, do not have a choice. We must be leaders and mentors, or we run the risk of potentially doing more harm than good in the lives of our students…especially our young people!
Les Hudson is Director of Tennis at Seven Hills - a GPTA member for 25 years and serving on the Board of Directors - USPTA Pro 1 and Wilson Advisory Staff Team.
ACT is a junior program created by Les to make a meaningful difference in the lives of youth. Les and his staff do this by going beyond simply offering instruction on the different grips, swing paths, follow throughs and various other techniques involved with consistently making solid contact with a tennis ball. An important part of the program (clinics, practice days & play days) is the promotion of, recognition for, and rewards given to ACT students achieving Academic excellence and Character development through Tennis. If you or a coach you know would like to find out how you can make the "Character Connection" with your kids throughout your entire junior tennis program including such things as, how to get your students 8-10 years of age interested in mentoring the 6-7 year olds; kids 11-14 mentoring 8-10 year olds, etc. through the "Coaching is Leading" component of the program; or, get them excited about their community and willing to volunteer with their team on scheduled "Service Days," then contact Les: 678.661.9448 or firstname.lastname@example.org.