With the exception of teenagers, most people do not know everything.
The older I get, the more I don’t know.
If I need facts or figures, I can just Google them.
There are times when what we need to learn can’t be found in a book or a Google search.
Sometimes I need a coach and other times I need a mentor
Coach or Mentor: What’s The Difference?
Matt Starcevich, Ph. D. highlights the difference in an article his posted here.
There were 6 areas that he reviewed; Focus, Role, Relationship, Source of Influence, Personal Return, and Arena.
What Is A Coach?
In general, a coach is more performance focused and task related. The influence comes from the position the coach holds and usually the fact that they are being paid.
What Is A Mentor?
In contrast to the coach, a mentor is focused more on the individual and their life. While there might be elements of coaching that occur, that is not the focus. The mentor is a facilitator with no set agenda.
In the book, “One Minute Mentoring”, authors Ken Blanchard and Claire Diaz-Ortiz write that “any good mentor will use a coaching process and coaching skills to help the mentee.”
Why Get A Mentor?
I am one for trying to figure things out on my own. Part of it is my pride and the other part is that between Google, books, podcasts, blogs, and YouTube, I can find what I need. For that moment. What I am finding though is that just in time learning is NOT enough.
For me, I need someone to bounce ideas off of. I need someone that has gotten to a point that I want to be at.
- Mentors have information and knowledge we often don’t have access to.
- We are often trapped inside the bottle and can’t read the label. A mentor can help you ‘Get out of the bottle so that you can read the label’.
- Mentors can find ways to encourage and motivate up to keep us going.
- Mentors help us set guard rails in our life to avoid dangers.
- Mentors can act as a sounding board. Since we share values, you can bounce ideas off them and get an unfiltered opinion.
- Mentors can become trusted advisers.
- Mentors can share their valuable network of people and connections with us
- Mentors that share their experiences with you can help you rise higher and faster since we can avoid the same mistakes beginners make they made.
- Mentors are financially free. The price of a good mentor is priceless
How To Pick A Mentor
Finding a mentor doesn’t need to be a difficult process. There are potential mentors all around us.
Blanchard and Diaz-Ortiz remind us that “people who can help you see the big picture don’t necessarily have to be in your field.”
We are looking for people that we relate to, connect with, and can trust.
Basically, finding a mentor and mentoring under them is simply finding a person that is trustworthy, and further ahead of you in a particular principle and not necessarily in your field of interest.Often the best person for you mentor under is the one who is just one step ahead. Click To Tweet
This person does not need to be a “Guru”, “Jedi”, “Rock Star” or “Ninja”. They need to further along the path you want to be on. Personally, I am turned off by anyone claiming to be “Guru”, “Rock Star” or “Ninja”. If you call yourself a “Jedi”, I will at least hear you out since I’m such a huge Star Wars fan.
Since you will be relying on their experience and teaching, a mentor is someone you MUST trust.
Mentoring can be short-term or for a lifetime.
How To Find A Mentor?
Unlike during the Renaissance where the master-apprentice relationship was something official and recognized, today’s mentor-mentee relationship will most likely be “unofficial”.
You most likely will not be able to walk up to some one today and ask “Will you be my mentor?”
While there is no one size fits all approach to finding a mentor, there are plenty of ways NOT to find one. So if you want to find a mentor, try doing the opposite of the list below:
- Walk up to someone you admire but who doesn’t know you and ask them to mentor you
- Be vague in asking for help
- Expect a mentor to fit into your schedule
- Do not read their blog or books first before approaching them
- Do not put into practice anything they mentioned in their blog posts or books
- Push for a formalized relationship of mentor-mentee
- When looking for a mentor, focus only on the person’s position
- Don’t share what you’ve learned from them in the past
- ASK more than you give
Look for a person that matches your values and personality type. You need to have enough shared values to be able to “click”.
The Next Step
Consider what area of your life you want to grow in. Do you someone that has reached a level that you want to be at? Ask them out to coffee, lunch, whatever. Remember to be respectful of their time.
If you can’t find someone in the area that you want to improve upon, look online. You need to do your due diligence and make sure the person you are looking to model after is a person of good character in addition to being at a level you admire.
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