I had a personal victory this morning. I stepped on the scale and discovered for the first time in about a decade my weight was below two hundred pounds. This has been on my goal list for at least the last five years and each year I seemed to be getting just a little further away from my goal. In fact, in January of this year I was at two hundred thirty pounds.

Now, I didn’t just miraculously wake up thirty pounds lighter. For some reason, I had been having almost no luck with the “miracle” plan. Instead, this time I found a coach to help me — my Karate instructor, Grandmaster Keith Hafner. He helped me come up with a system that worked for me.

And now I need a new wardrobe.

This has made me reflect on the importance of coaches and mentors in our lives. These are the folks who have been where we want to go. They’ve already blazed the trail and marked all of the obstacles. Now, if we just followed their advice, I think we would be surprised at how much more we could achieve. But where do we meet these leaders?

Well, I think if I were you, for something as important as this, I would be looking through your network — and your network’s network. For example, are you trying to prepare for a physical challenge, such as a triathlon? You might want to talk to that personal trainer you met at the Chamber lunch. If you didn’t meet him, you might want to ask your network who they would recommend.

I know in my life, I met my sales coach (Joe Marr), my Karate instructor (Grandmaster Hafner), and my business advisor (Jim Woods) through networking. Could I have just looked them up in the phone book or on the Web? Sure. But would I have been able to commit to their advice without the personal recommendations of those I trust? I don’t know. Certainly not as quickly or as easily as I did.

If you have particular goals you want to achieve, you could do worse than finding a coach to get you pointed in the right direction. I know as entrepreneurs we tend to think of ourselves as rugged individualists, but here’s a secret: In general, you don’t get extra points for wasting your time re-inventing the wheel. Find that person who’s already done it and you don’t have to make all the mistakes that they did.

Just open up your contact list and make the call.

Photo credit: Asif Akbar