Coaches and mentors are a great help for improving your skills, but most of us don’t have access to one. And even those who do need someone closer to their skill level with whom they can practice (unless you enjoy getting beat up by your sensei every time you spar).
Your training partner is going to have a very strong influence on your progress. So you have to be sure you’ve paired up with the right person. To butcher a popular saying, “you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your training partners.”
Your Partner Influences Your Attitude
Colin Powell was once quoted saying, “The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate – for the good and the bad.” This applies especially to whoever you choose as your training partner. If you pair yourself with a lazy training partner, then you might end up letting your own training slide. If you latch onto someone who is driven, then you’ll pull yourself up to match him.
Find a Relationship That Drives You
Not all partnerships are made in heaven. I once got into boxing and went with several friends. We were largely a competitive group—a bunch of us (myself not included) sparred with each other regularly, and looked forward to the competition. It drove them to train more and harder. One person, however, wasn’t interested in competing, and resisted all attempts to spar. He thrived on the camaraderie, not the competition.
I want you to ask yourself, “why do I train with this person? What makes this experience enjoyable?” Is it the camaraderie? The rivalry? The connection?” Once you’ve figured that out, try to seek out other people who have the same preference.
Bonds Through Shared Experience
I have a writing buddy that I’ve known for several years. We met each other through an online writing group. We critiqued each other’s work, and motivated each other to write (thank God he’s never given up on me). I’ve never met him in person, and yet I consider him one of my closest friends. And this connection would never have happened if it weren’t for our mutual love for writing.
If you and your significant other share the same passions, then all the better! My wife devours stories of any kind, whether they’re movies, TV shows, or books, and always pitches me ideas that could make good stories.
The Last Word
Your training partner could be one of the most positive, beneficial relationships you’ll ever get—not just in your vocation, but in your life. Choose wisely.
Image from Flickr, by Tom Leuntjens.