Have you ever had a mentor? A mentor is someone who guides you because they have been there before, and wants to help you succeed. A mentor usually has an emotional investment in being there for you. It may be an older co-worker, boss, or someone you know in a field you want to learn more about.
Let’s look at Merriam-Webster’s definition of mentor: “1. (Capitalized) A friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus’ son Telemachus. 2. a) a trusted counselor or guide. b) Tutor, coach.” Based upon these definitions, it seems that there is no difference between a mentor and a coach.
“Mentor” was a friend of Odysseus that served as a counselor or teacher. (The Greek goddess Athena disguised herself as Mentor, but that is another story.) As for the definition of mentor, perhaps Wikipedia says it best: “someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague,” and even closer: “provide expertise to less experienced individuals to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks.”
Naturally we want to know the definition of coach as well: “2. a) A private tutor. b) One who instructs or trains (an acting coach); especially one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy (a football coach).” Once again, Wikipedia is spot on: “practice of supporting an individual, referred to as a coachee or client, through the process of achieving a specific personal or professional result.”
When we compare these definitions some clear differences emerge: 1) A mentor is a guide, a coach is a focused guide. 2) A mentor is individual-oriented, and a coach is more team-oriented. 3) A mentor counsels; a coach trains you in action steps.
Is it possible for someone to be a coach and a mentor to one person at the same time? Absolutely. Audeliz Angie Perez, the CEO and owner of Agent Know How, is both mentor and coach to me. We were friends before we took the next step to working together. She knows how to motivate me to take action. I don’t just play on social media anymore (although that serves a purpose too)..my efforts are focused. I keep distractions to a minimum. Angie showed me how to achieve these things and more, and I can’t wait to see what she recommends next.
Interestingly, the word "mentor" is currently ranked in the top 20% of lookups on Merriam-Webster.com. This tells us that there is a need for the service. Are you in need of someone to help you develop an action plan for the coming year? Let's do this together! Visit Agent Know How to jump start your career now!
-Lynda White, Administrative Manager