If you are looking to improve yourself in some area of life, you might begin by looking for someone more experienced to help you get better. While this is a strong start, you first need to determine what type of help you are looking for. Do you want a coach or a mentor?
This may seem like a redundant question, but while coaches and mentors fill very similar roles, there are several distinctive differences between the two. In order to find the right person to help you achieve your goals, you need to figure out what best suits your needs.
One of the key differences between coaches and mentors is the focus of the relationship. Coaches are hired in order to help someone accomplish something. It is often a short term relationship with a very specific goal in mind. You might hire a job coach to help you secure a position you want, for instance, or a computer coach to get you up to speed on the latest technology.
A mentor is very different. They are focused on you and your development. A mentor's advice is not like a coach's orders. There is more room for the mentee to question his or her mentor. This relationship is often more long term than a coach's, as there is no end goal in mind.
Do you have a specific task at hand that you need to perform well? A goal oriented coach can help you finish that task quickly and efficiently. Do you have long term goals that are multi-faceted? A mentor will be more than happy to walk down that path with you for as long as it takes. A coach wants to see you perform well. A mentor wants to see you develop.
That isn't to say that there can't be some overlap between the two, as boxer Freddie Roach demonstrates. A world champion boxer before he was forced to retire by Parkinson's disease, Roach is now one of the best boxing trainers in the world. If you wanted to be a better boxer, you could engage him as a coach, or he could become your mentor.
If you had an important match coming up, Roach could coach you through it. He could oversee your physical training, critique your form, improve your diet, and help you win. Once the match was over, his job would be done.
As a mentor, Roach could do much more than that. He would be more interested in your career than in one particular match. As a coach, he would be disappointed if you lost a match. As a mentor, he would accept the loss if he felt that you still showed personal improvement over your last fight.
You can easily see how one trainer could serve as both coach and mentor over a long boxing career. This does not have to be entirely an either-or decision. As with any relationship however, defining the terms and goals at the beginning will help prevent confusion between the trainer and student and will help ensure that both parties are satisfied with the arrangement.
Herona Kim helps individuals cultivate awareness and learning how to get relief from stress and allowing the body to melt tension away.