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How are coaching and mentoring different?

You might have a need for both coaching and mentoring. I would highly recommend you experience coaching first, and then if the need arises, add on some mentoring. Coaching and mentoring are complementary.


In a coaching mode, you are the one who provides the topic, the content, and our objective for the conversation. I attune to you, listen carefully, and ask questions to help you reflect, draw out your own feelings and thinking around the subject, and see things in a new way (your new way of seeing, not mine).

At the start, we clarify your goal for the conversation. By the end of a conversation, we are aiming to help you improve the way you feel, the way you think, or decide upon an action that you are feeling motivated to take toward your goal.

I am ready to accept you as you are. I believe in your value and abilities to think and find good solutions. I am there to help you find what motivates you from the inside. I listen, ask questions, challenge your perspective, point out your strengths, suggest tools for thinking, clarify, reflect, summarize, protect the focus, and provide accountability.

As a personal coach of this kind – I do not necessarily need to know a lot about the area of life you are focused on because you are the expert of your life and I am there to guide you in a particular way to come to your own understanding about what you need to do. You provide the content for the discussion while I help you organize and process that content.


A mentoring relationship is a safe, encouraging collaboration between you and me that is focused on what you want to achieve or become. In the mentoring mode, I have some knowledge and skill in the realm of your personal goal that you desire to have. I will be passing that on to you and guide you in the practice of it. I would do more teaching perhaps and recommend assignments. I would help you understand the nature of your goal and what is required to achieve it. I work with you to develop your perspective, skills, and habits that set you on course for achievement. I will still be intent on having you discover and tap into your own strengths, skills, and resources to overcome obstacles and make progress.

As a mentor of this kind, I should have experience and success in the area of life you have set a goal for. Themes that I would be comfortable mentoring you in are relationships, education, certain work and business settings, health, and fitness, spiritual development and aging, and forming life purpose.

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