Mentoring from a stranger.

What are you working on today? Arms. How often do you workout?

This was the start of a gym conversation between a well-muscled man and a kid in his mid-teens. I turned the podcast I was listening to off to listen in. The older gentleman shared a few tips – he works one muscle group a day five days a week, to give the others time to rest. He shared the importance of this, and some tips on protein consumption if the young lad’s goal was to bulk up. The mentor told his new mentee that he had potential, and offered to share some pointers at future workouts. I’m guessing that they had seen eachother at the gym before and generally go around the same time.

The cautious part of me asked “what’s in it for the mentor?” and “does the mentee even want advice?” I don’t think I’m alone in this. I have read posts in triathlon forums and seen people upset by unsolicited advice. It is easy to default to defending oneself. Furthermore, so many people offer advice that isn’t good, or isn’t a good fit for us personally. I don’t think it is always good to take advice, especially unsolicited from a stranger. At the same time, if handled well by both parties, it could lead to a great partnership for both, but only if we maintain openness to the possibility of creating a great relationship with someone starting out as a stranger who begins to offer advice.

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