Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

18 Feb

Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

CoachSwamyPeople who approach Swamy seeking guidance, help, counsel, direction, advice, et al, are not clear if they need him to be a Coach or Mentor (or Gardener – but let’s park that enchanting role for the time being). Having spent over two decades of his life span in the corporate corridors (the much coveted corner room wasn’t on his radar, ever), playing both roles for helping many, he’s both amused and amazed at this lack of clarity, especially in this digital space overflowing with digital natives.

While the lack of clarity about these two roles may be caused by multiple factors that still plague most of the systems – including but not limited to education and work, the primary one is not doing one’s own research to make an informed choice, despite the biG (for the uninitiated, that would be big G, aka Google – your active & pious mind is forgiven for interpreting that as the other big G, aka God) waiting eagerly on a plethora of devices to help with tons of information on the subject.

So, Swamy decided to make it easier for you to choose, irrespective of whether you choose him as your Coach or Mentor (or Gardener :)). Here are the 8 valuable insights for making the useful choice!

Both Coaching & Mentoring are about caring, but only Mentoring is about sharing.

Seven-movie-image-3Mentoring is about leveraging one’s own ‘been there, done that‘ survival past. A Mentor usually is a subject matter expert with on field experience, who lets you learn by sharing personal experiences, way of thinking and decisions taken, which you can reuse.

Coaching is about the other person’s ‘how to get there & do that’ living future. A Coach need not be a domain expert, doesn’t share how s/he will approach a situation and enables thinking & decision making happen in you, which you learn to use!

Coaching is a fast paced action movie. Mentoring is a soap that moves along at a leisurely pace for long.

Po-and-Shifu-po-and-master-shifu-25978929-970-823Action movies race from start to finish driven by a hero(ine) who doesn’t even know how to race like a maniac on traffic heavy city roads. If you want short term results, prefer following a framework and need precise direction, then pick a Coach who will steer you towards a specific time bound goals.

Soaps move along at a leisurely pace for a long time, have many colourful characters and are filled with a plethora of wow & whoa moments in each episode. If you need long term outcomes, ready to disentangle yourself from firm beliefs & willing to tread a path shown by someone, choose a Mentor who will walk you along a growth bound career.

Mentor is a teacher, helping you learn. Coach is a trainer, letting you know.

KarateKid4Mentoring is teaching someone what one already knows. If you prefer learning from others – from their experience and knowledge – choose a Mentor, who will help you learn how to navigate externally.

Coaching is letting someone learn what even one may not know. If you want to know yourself better, and discover what you’re capable of – choose a Coach, who will let you know how to navigate internally.

Primary communication skill of a Coach is listening. For a Mentor it’s speaking.

The_Oracle_and_Neo_on_BenchA Mentor speaks a lot to share knowledge & experience so Mentee can learn by listening & questioning. If you love listening to discourses and have annoyed your parents by questioning everything, you’ll benefit from a Mentor who loves to speak and share.

A Coach listens and questions a lot so Coachee can learn from speaking & thinking. If you don’t mind opening up about yourself and willing to discover your true self – warts and all – then you’ll benefit from a Coach who lets the cat see itself on the mirror in all its furry glory and lets it discover how to become the lion with a majestic mane and menacing roar, from deep within.

Coaching is a craft. Mentoring is an art.

silence-of-the-lambsAnyone can learn a craft, because the building blocks of any craft are tools & skills. Natural aptitude helps but isn’t essential. Coaching isn’t a model to solve this tiny planet’s huge problems, though it can be used for that purpose too. It’s a methodical way used by a Coach to enable humans think and act on solutions.

Not everyone can be an artist, otherwise the world will be full of artists and not art lovers & admirers. Mentoring is like starting with a blank canvas, cans of paint, variety of brushes and learning how to use all of them. A Mentor shows how to paint and helps you paint your own masterpiece.

Mentor need not be a stakeholder in your success. Coach has to be.

Dumbledore_HarryPotter1From the moment you were born, many have helped you learn the what’s, why’s & how’s of Life. All parents, most teachers, many friends, few relatives, an odd boss, would’ve shared their own experiences & knowledge gained over time to help you learn from their successes and failures. The one who taught you how to ride a bicycle didn’t do it to make you a world champion rider. Their purpose is simply to share what they knew. They are Mentors who need not be a stakeholder in your success.

When you wanted to achieve specific goals or results, the people you approached or the expertise you sought after were different. The superfit neighbourhood marathoner who helped you reduce weight just in time for the gala wedding; the yoga practitioner brother who guided you to remain stress-free despite having to survive a nagging boss; the lab assistant who helped you nail arc welding; the lithe banker who opened your nostrils wide to the abundance of nutrition in traditional vegetarian diet & tickled your taste buds …these are Coaches – not known experts in those areas – who enabled you discover things even you didn’t know about yourself and helped you achieve specific results you desired.

Coaching is an essential Leadership skill. Mentoring need not be.

Gandalf1A Mentor needs experience & knowledge gained over a span of time to help others by sharing dos & don’ts, but doesn’t necessarily require the ability to personally lead change and achieve results.

A Coach needs an open mind, patience, perspective, humility, presence & persistence – all essential leadership skills, but unknown to many who love to call themselves leaders – to guide others to achieve desired results within specific time.

Mentor lets you know how s/he has done it. Coach lets you discover what you must do and how.

Thor_The_Dark_World_Thor_and_OdinMentoring is reliving material experience by fetching pails of incidences from the memory well and offering it to all thirsty ones. A Mentor who has mastered the art of seamlessly drawing necessary quantity of memory anytime is like a friendly kiranawala (neighbourhood shopkeeper) who offers exactly what & how much you need, when you need it.

Coaching happens when you set your know-it-all self aside and listen to someone as if hearing it for the first time in Life! It’s the closest spiritual experience one can have in this overwhelmingly material world by letting go of oneself while helping someone else. A Coach who has mastered the art of setting one’s own self aside while letting you discover yourself is akin to a Guru who has no self left anytime!

men-in-black

In the enchanting epic of Mahabharat, Krishna is omnipresent, playing different roles at different times. A cowherd who is neither king nor peasant, neither hero nor villain, neither the seen nor the told in reality, the sheer presence of this contemporary Yogi (of that time) ensures there is no tale without him.

Lord-Krishna-In-a-Forest-With-Cow-Natural-ImageIf you’re just happy listening to enchanting tales of Krishna stealing butter with brother Balarama & friends, mesmerizing mother Yashoda by showing the vast universe in his tiny mouth, playfully destroying demons like Bhutana, skillfully playing the flute and dancing with Gopikas, elevating love to an altogether different devotional level with Radhe, benevolently helping childhood friend Kusela… then all you need is a Mentor like Ved Vyas who authored the epic or Thirumuruga Kripananda Vaariar (திருமுருக கிருபானந்த வாரியார்) who can make you go whoa and wow thru his discourses of the epic. Eventually, you may even end up using some of his tricks for plying your trade!

VishwaroopaDarshanOn the other hand, if you’re enticed by the master strategist Krishna, who was always present with the Pandavas but didn’t actually lead them to victory over the Kauravas; enabled Draupati to save her modesty in Dhuryodhana’s court without really teaching her how to; certainly guided them to make the precise moves that led to the decisive victory in the war at Kurukshetra, without actually sharing with them how he destroyed Kamsa, overpowered Kaalinga or lifted the Govardhan mountain with his little finger to save the yadavas from the fury of the mighty Indra… then you must seek a Coach like Krishna. But then, you must also be willing to discover the master archer Arjuna within you, who didn’t have the courage to wage war against his own kin and elders, while at the battlefield, despite all of them being on the wrong side of Dharma. It took a magnificent Vishwaroop slap from Krishna to shake him up and eventually do what he must do – let go of himself to realize what he’s really capable of!

May grace be with you to choose a Mentor or Coach, using Swamy’s 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!

P.S. Swamy, Gardener of the human kind, has both the experience and credential to play either Mentor or Coach (or a proportionate mix of both), for anyone keen 😀

@PrakashSwamy

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One Response to “Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice!”

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  1. Swamystery 2.0! | Swamystery - April 18, 2016

    […] Coaching ~ Mentor or Coach – 8 valuable insights for making the most useful choice! […]

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