Mentors can be invaluable in our both personal and professional growth. Having had the opportunity to interview some of the most successful professionals in our industry, most of them would credit mentorship as one of the critical keys to their success.

In an interview with former PFP Trainer of the Year Jim White, he noted that when he first began in the fitness and nutrition industries, he sought out mentorship from anyone who was willing to speak with him. He set up lunches with professors, coaches and experienced professionals to gain insight on how to be better as a fitness professional and dietitian. When he started his business, he sought advice from local business owners, other fitness business owners, accountants, attorneys and any other specialist who could help him in the aspects of business where he was less experienced.

Getting the most out of your time with a mentor begins with asking the right questions. To elicit what may be most valuable to you, here are ten questions to inspire your conversation with a mentor. These questions can be directed for more career-focused mentorship (i.e. how to be a more qualified fitness professional), more business-focused (i.e. running a successful business) or even for personal development.

1. What do you wish you knew when you started your business/your career?

2. Was there a time in your career when you felt like you wanted to give up? What did you do to move past it?

3. Is there anything you wish you spent more money/time/energy on?

4. Is there anything you wish you spent less money/time/energy on?

5. Who are your mentors?

6. How do you delegate different tasks in your business?

7. What frustrates you as an entrepreneur/business owner/fitness professional?

8. What was your vision when you started? Is it different today?

9. If you were me, what would you do?

10. What can I do for you?

The value of a mentor is that you can have access to practical information and insight that you likely won’t find in textbooks or in the classroom. Don’t overthink mentorship; you don’t have to pay thousands for a mentor or be at a certain point in your career. Most successful professionals are more than willing to mentor…it all starts with you simply asking.