The Difference Between a Coach and a Mentor

What’s the difference between a coach and a mentor? This is a question asked last week on Facebook by a client/colleague.

It is a very long time since I did my coach training in 2002 but I seem to remember that we took a lot of inspiration from Carl Jung who believed that all the answers are inside each of us. He said:

“Your vision will only become clear when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”

Coaches believe the answers are all inside, and our goal is to ask you a question which has one or both of the following responses – either you go quiet (I love it when you go quiet!), or you go “Hmm, good question” and you start poking about inside to try and access your own wisdom in response. When clients do either of those I know I’ve got you in my coaching sweet spot.

As coaches then, our goal is to help you access your own inner wisdom usually by asking a series of intuitive and curious questions and helping you to work out what you want and getting you into action to go for it. It can be goal-oriented if you wish. These days I find people just want (some) things in their lives and work to be other than they currently are.

Goals or intentions and accountability might be a way to get you there. We only know once we start to get into action, or rather once you do. With the momentum of you in action, we can steer and change course with ease; if you are frozen in inaction, that’s less easy. Once you are moving we can experiment and based on what happens, we can adapt. A coach will help and support you in all of that so it is less scary and less lonely.

But there are very clearly some questions you don’t know the answers to inside. That’s where a mentor comes in. You might choose one who has already done what you want to do and pick their brains until their ears bleed. I did that! A mentor will encourage and support too and get you to do all the work but also you give them permission to teach and accelerate your success. You get there faster because a mentor can simply tell you the answer or explain how it was for them or what they’ve seen work in lots of different examples,  you don’t have to go looking for it yourself unless you want to, or unless you have time. Mentors are inspirational too and I have some fabulous mentoring tips I’ve picked up and always use and will never forget.

I do both combined together in the one package – me! I think that’s ideal. This way you can trust me to know when to coach and when to mentor. I don’t always get that right but my intention is to get that right as much as possible, I am experimenting too. It’s a lovely magical mix. As I start to work with my business clients, I do believe the numbers of answers inside them increase and become more useful. The strapline of my book Your Biz Your Way was learning to trust yourself and this is my ultimate goal, to get clients to see that as you skill up you can rely on yourself increasingly.

I think Jung was right when I’m life coaching, the answers are inside you. Business? Not so much initially but yes definitely as you move from newbie to more confident business owner. It is at that point you see that the answers were always inside you, your instincts are great, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do to create a you-shaped business in your own name which provides a lovely livelihood.

We are not born knowing everything, but we do know what’s right for us and what’s not. That’s your internal knowing, even in business. And if you are prepared to be wrong too, so much the better. Start, pay attention to internal wisdom, change if necessary and keep on steering that way. Your internal knowing will always see you right. A coach helps and supports you on that journey, a mentor accelerates and brings a whole different energy. The two combined are awesome, especially if they come in one person.

I know not everyone will agree with me. And that’s fine too. See how this works?

Your Biz Your Way

If you have enjoyed reading my words here, you might also enjoy my book - Your Biz Your Way: Learning to Trust Yourself. Relax! You've Got This. Get a chunky free sample and/or buy the book here Read My Book

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