What is the Difference Between a Mentor and a Coach?
I had a session with my long-term coach & mentor. As a side note, people all often surprised that I have a coach. Well, of course, I have a coach, I am an ambitious business owner that is continuously growing year after year and breaking into new unfamiliar ground. I need knowledge, support, accountability, and deadlines just like everyone else that wants to grow to their full potential. Actually, I have several mentors, coaches, and advisors that account for my exponential growth over the last several years. But I digress, when my coach opened the session, he mentioned that he has recently gotten from clarity around the difference between a coach and a mentor. I was intrigued and asked him to expand. He is what he said…
A Coach: Someone that assists an individual or team achieve a specific objective i.e. win the game, win the league, get an individual to a new level or build a 5-million-dollar business. A coach is strategical and tactical in their approach and gets the player/team to achieve their max potential with the resources and talent that are available. A coach gets clarity on where their player(s) want to go, why they want to get there, creates an action plan to achieve that objective, holds regular meetings (practices) to provide knowledge, support, deadlines, and accountability to accelerate the pace in which the objective is achieved. A coach also keeps score to measure progress and make course corrections if the player(s) get off track.
A Mentor: Guides someone through their journey. A mentor is likely someone that is with you for the long hall but interacts with you in a less structured and less intense manner. They often know intimately, who you are, where you come from and where you want to go. They provide guidance and suggestions but often stop short at enforcing deadlines and accountability. They will often throw out ideas but it is up to you to take them to heart and execute. A mentor is generally cool with that and takes the attitude, “My idea will take root, once my mentee is ready for it to do so.” A mentor isn’t likely to let a short-term setback affect the big picture journey.
So, what does one need to live a life at their full potential? I would say both. A mentor that is going to be with them for the journey and a coach (or multiple coaches) to help them develop on the skills and mindset that they need to develop and breakthrough to new levels of achievement. I have seen a lot of players outgrow their coaches but a quality mentor is hard to outgrow (especially if they are growing).
Over the years I have played the role of both coach and mentor. Sometimes it is a shorter coaching engagement to help a business owner achieve specific objectives. What I have enjoyed the most is taking people through the long-term journey of going from self-employed to building a business of 18 employees and $1 million in sales. I have enjoyed helping someone grow their existing business 5x over an 8-year period. I also have been honored to have been bestowed the honor of being considered “The Greatest Influence in My Life!” It’s pretty awesome stuff.
Do you have the mentors and coaches in your life that are helping you achieve your full potential at an accelerated rate? Keep in mind that life provides a short window, make sure you make the most of what you have been given.