A Coach or Mentor Can Help You Get Where You Want to Be


A Coach or Mentor Can Help You Get Where You Want to Be

Throughout my business career I’ve had a number of different mentors. In recent times my circumstances have changed through rapid personal growth and the development of different business interests. This has driven me to change and build on my current support network by seeking other coaches and mentors. It has also made me think about my own role as a potential mentor for people I know and have worked with in the past.

Coach vs. Mentor 

When considering the question of mentors, it got me thinking about the difference between a coach and a mentor, because the terms are often used interchangeably and the line between them is often blurred. It’s useful to understand the derivation of both of the words, because this informs the role and purpose of each of them.

The word Coach in this context originates from a small Hungarian village called Kocs, which became famous for making high quality horse-drawn carriages. The style of carriage became known by the name of the village and evolved into the generic term ‘Coach’. The word then made its way into educational circles in the early 1800’s as a slang expression for a tutor who ‘carried’ their students through an exam, as if by coach.

The word Mentor comes from Homer’s Odyssey, a famous ancient Greek poem. Mentor was the name of one of the main characters in the story, who in his old age was a trusted friend and adviser who helped the King of Ithaca, Odysseus, by caring for his castle and teaching his son, Telemachus.

I think of the roles of Coaches and Mentors as follows:

  • Coach – someone with skills in a certain area who works with you in a directive manner and has a focus on a task, generally for a short-term engagement to achieve a specific objective.
  • Mentor – a trusted and experienced adviser who interacts with you in a collaborative manner and has a focus on you as a person, often in a long-term relationship.

Deciding whether to work with a coach or a mentor depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you have a specific task in mind, such as growing your business revenue by a certain amount in a certain timeframe, then a coach with experience in that area is the way to go.

If you’re thinking of your own personal development and the direction of your career over the long term, then a mentor would be a better fit. Remember that a coach or mentor can help with both your personal and business objectives.

What a coach or mentor can do for your business

A business coach or mentor can bring great value to your business and provide help across a range of areas. Studies show that many of the most successful people on the planet have used coaches and/or mentors along their journey. Leveraging the connections and experience of a coach or mentor can provide benefits such as:

  • A fresh perspective on you and your business, unaffected by your own experience and limiting beliefs.
  • Someone to keep you accountable for doing what needs to be done.
  • Access to their network of business and personal connections.
  • A sounding-board to test out your ideas.
  • Advice on direction, targets and strategies for your business.
  • Assistance with developing clarity around your personal and business goals and objectives.
  • A different skill-set.
  • Someone who is unafraid to tell it like they see it, without being concerned about your position or role in the company, knowing that telling the truth is the best approach and helping you by holding up a mirror for you to see what’s really going on.

Your network should change and grow with you

I was talking with a wise friend recently about a mentor relationship of mine and she reminded me that sometimes we outgrow mentors. And this is very true – it’s not a bad thing, and there certainly doesn’t need to be any hard feelings. Often there comes a time when the relationship just isn’t working anymore. Perhaps their advice is no longer relevant, or your growth has taken you along a different path, or the commitment level has dropped, or you’ve just stopped getting along. It’s important for you to recognise that and respond accordingly.

Get some help going from where you are to where you want to be

If you’re not where you want to be in your business right now, it could be really beneficial to reach out and get yourself a coach or mentor to help you get there. Working with someone who has achieved what you aspire to do, or has trodden a similar path, or who you respect for their opinion and advice could have a great positive impact on your business!

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