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Mentors VS. Coaches Is there a difference?

I am a huge proponent of working with professional coaches and mentors. Having the ability to vent, learn, and grow with a trusted peer is vital to the success of your career. There are slight differences in what a mentor and coach does, and honestly, if you have the opportunity to work with both, even simultaneously, take it.


Professional coaches are a guide. They hold you accountable, help you develop a broader perspective, and guide you through challenging situations. They will not share their personal experiences with you. Rather they use questions to help you discover the answers to your challenges.


Mentors help you learn hard and soft skills, share their experiences with you, and help you create plans. Mentors are a bit more hands on, boots on the ground. They won’t tell you what to do, but they will help you find the answer.

No matter who you are working with, here are some tips to help you make the most of your sessions.

  1. Prepare ahead of time.

Think about what you want to get out of the session and come prepared with questions. Mentors will give you pre-work. Make sure to complete the work. If needed, write notes in preparation for the session.

  1. Be open and honest.

The more honest you are with your mentor, the more they can help you. Also, be open and honest with yourself. A lot of times we have preconceived ideas that influence us more than we realize. Be prepared to recognize these and to honestly question them. Remember true growth won’t happen until you open yourself up.

  1. Be respectful.

Remember that your mentor is giving you their time and expertise, so be respectful of their time and knowledge. If they ask you to write a reflection piece, remember it’s not for their benefit. Everything they ask of you is designed to help you get the most from a session.

  1. Be a good listener.

Don't just wait for your turn to talk. Really listen to what your mentor has to say and take their advice to heart. If you don’t understand something, ask clarifying questions. Never be afraid to ask or tell your mentor you don’t understand.

  1. Follow up.

After your mentoring session, take some time to reflect on what you learned and how you can apply it. Reflections are where you accomplish the most growth. Putting the time in will help you achieve your goals more quickly.

  1. Be yourself.

Don't try to be someone you're not. Your mentor wants to get to know the real you. Remember in life there is no other person like you. Be true to yourself. Be authentic and genuine. It will get you farther.

  1. Be positive.

A positive attitude will make the mentoring relationship more enjoyable for both of you. And it will help you master skills faster. Positivity makes your brain work better.

  1. Be grateful.

Thank your mentor for their time and expertise. An attitude of gratitude helps you master a skill faster and increases your positivity.

  1. Be patient.

It takes time to build a strong mentoring relationship. Don't expect to see results overnight. Remember the more you put in, the more open you are, the faster rapport will be built.

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