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A helping hand

Jez Cartwight By Jez Cartwight,  February 29, 2016

Mentoring is big business in the US, but many Brits are reluctant to ask for help. Professional mentor Jez Cartwright explains why, if it works for the world’s leading sportspeople and teams, it will also work for businesses.

Do you need help? You might not think so. But put it another way: do you need help to achieve your full potential? If the answer is no, you may have a problem.

No sportsman or woman gets to be on the podium by themselves. They have coaches, trainers, nutritionists, psychologists and all manner of support. They may be the talent, but they need help to succeed. Business is exactly the same. Executives and teams need mentoring and coaching to win in the competitive world of business.

I started my first business in 1994, advising sports teams on how they can get better. My first client was the Great Britain Diving Team. We looked at the best teams in the world and saw what we can learn from them. It worked and I collaborated with England Cricket, Great Britain Rowing and a number of professional football teams, including Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough.

Difficult questions

The experience can be applied to business, where I work as a mentor. Sometimes it is as simple as asking questions that may be difficult or sensitive, such as whether an individual’s personal baggage affects their ability to pursue their chosen career path, whether it be as corporate executive or creative entrepreneur.

We work with all sorts of people: the superstars, the chief executive, the board, and the troublemakers. People need to heighten their level of self-awareness because, if they don’t have that, they’re going to make different decisions. It is not about making decisions for people, it is about helping them get more awareness and a bit of time and space to do some thinking.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Business is about asking what we can do differently to bring about different and better results.

Better answers

Initially people and organisations can find the process challenging. But, if you don’t sharpen the saw it’s not long before you’re hitting a block of wood with a block of wood. And that doesn’t get you very far.

When people reach a certain level of seniority, they realise that it’s taking time away from the coalface that's really important because that enables you to work out where you need to go and what you need to do next. 

Finding the right mentor comes down to chemistry. Yes, there are requirements in terms of experience and track record, but the key is trust. You might need to kiss a couple of frogs before you find your prince. It needs to be a relationship that works for you and there are different times of your life and career where you need a different kind of mentor or coach. But your mentor needs to have your best interests at heart. They have to enjoy seeing you on the podium and not want to be there themselves.

If you would like to talk about how any of these issues relate to your business then please get in touch with – Jez Cartwright at or

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