Do you have a goal that you need to accomplish? Do you wish you had someone neutral around to offer you advice? Do you often need a kick in the butt to get you moving? Perhaps you need a coach, a mentor or even a guide. Yet how to choose? What’s the difference and which one is best for you and your needs?
Personally in my life, I’ve had a fitness coach, a spiritual guide and at one point, a life coach. All of which have helped me immensely in accomplishing my goals and made for life changing experiences. In every case, my life and my self-confidence, improved as a result.
Unfortunately, many of us did not grow up with any of these three and may have had our parents, friends or teachers fulfilling these roles. This is wonderful, but sometimes the best advice can be from someone who doesn’t know you on a personal level – at least to start. They are able to take an unbiased approach and see from a greater perspective. Whether it’s a coach, mentor or guide, I believe it’s important to have one in your life at least for part of the time.
Let’s take a closer look at the focus of each.
- A coach is someone who uses a more formalized approach to help you in changing or improving a behavior and is usually outcome focused. A sport coach for example, is focused on increasing your fitness level, while a business coach may help you with improving your deliverables in a project. A coach will set specific agendas and timelines that should be followed. A life coach will help you in mastering specific areas in life that may need to be addressed and they usually have a teaching approach.
- A mentor uses a more informal approach and is building a dual relationship that can be of benefit to both. The mentor usually has gained knowledge through experience. They act in a similar way as a guide but focus on giving you different options, which you can then choose to follow or not. A mentor can often become a friend which can evolve into a beautiful relationship. However at this stage, I suggest that it’s best to keep the friendship, as an equal level has been reached and to move to another coach, mentor or guide. Friends are very different from mentors.
- A guide is someone who shows you a particular way to something. Think of it like a travel guide showing you’re the sites in Rome. A guide is someone (often spiritual in nature) who is helping you in your journey to get somewhere. Whether this is Rome or to master Zen, it’s a similar principle. We can often become a disciple of sorts to our guide and often look up to our him or her with admiration and respect. The difference between a guide and a mentor is that the guide may not allow for a different path because he or she is instilling his or her already gained wisdom.
Here are a few things to consider when looking for any one of these three. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s you who has all knowledge inside. The coach, mentor or guide is just here to help remind you of what you already know. Never allow for any one to invade your personal boundary if it becomes too uncomfortable. Only you can know your own boundary rules. That said, the guide may very well take you outside of your comfort zone to help you grow. Ideally you want to look for the following qualities:
- Someone who is honest. They will have a trusting and open quality about them. They will tell it like it is. Sometimes what they say, we may not want to hear. It is their job to help you see from a different perspective. They will provide constructive feedback.
- Someone who is a positive role model and looks and acts positively in life. They personally demonstrate these attributes in life or business.
- Someone who remembers what it’s like to be in your shoes. You don’t want to feel looked down upon or feel like you have to idolize someone. We’ve all been through hardships and sometimes it those people who have been through the most, that make the best mentors.
- Someone who has become an expert in their field and who leads by excellence and integrity.
These are just a few points. In my own personal search, I have come across three amazing women who fit all of the above qualities. They are focused in the areas of manifesting, empowerment and marketing and business leadership.
Lisa Alexander from This Woman Knows, focuses on personal development, spirituality, relationships, and business. “She also empowers women and young girls by helping them to understand their worth and value and live up to their own unique potential.” Lisa is also an author and has written a couple of books including, Put It Out There! 5 Steps To Kick Fear’s Butt and Move Your Dream Forward. www.thiswomanknows.com
LaTara V. Bussey from The Women Emerge group is serving, leading, and Impacting Women to Manifest Vision. She is the owner and CEO of LVB Enterprises and is a certified life coach and social media marketing specialist. She also offers ministry needs to build personal transformation. She is a visionary and tells it like it is. www.justbeinglatara.com
Smita Singh from Womenpreneur Success group, empowers women to be bold and fearless in their entrepreneurial goals and provides tips and strategies to run small successful businesses. She also has a podcast where she brings industry leaders to share in their knowledge and experience. She meets women entrepreneurs in a free MeetUp group once a month. Contact her for more details. www.womenpreneursuccess.com