Bill Abbate

Who doesn’t need a mentor in their life? No matter your age, a good mentor is indispensable if you wish to get ahead. They will help you see things you have not seen and grow in ways you could never have without them.

Read on about how this invaluable person can help you advance in your career and life!

What is a mentor?

A mentor functions differently than a coach, counselor, therapist, or friend, although they may be in your life in one or more of these ways.

A couple of dictionary definitions include:

mentor (noun) — an experienced and trusted adviser. Oxford Languages
mentor (noun) — a trusted counselor or guide. Merriam Webster

While almost anyone can function as a mentor in your life, coaching and therapy are specialized professions requiring considerable training. Mentoring often provides an ongoing relationship, whereas professional coaching and therapy are more formal and usually contracted for a fixed time.

Where coaching and therapy sessions are scheduled regularly for the term of the engagement, mentoring is often less formal with a more flexible schedule.

A mentor is generally more experienced and qualified than you. In contrast, a professional coach or therapist does not need the specific work or life experience you have had. However, they require specialized training and skills to be effective.

In mentoring, the mentee often sets the agenda if one exists. In professional coaching, the agenda focuses on achieving specific results. A mentor can help with career, personal development, or life issues, while a professional coach focuses on specific developmental needs or behavioral changes.

A therapist is distinct from a coach or mentor. As healthcare professionals, they provide therapeutic and medical services.

In this article, the coaching referenced is that of a true professional with training and certification, not just someone who calls themselves a coach or life coach based on experience.

The bottom line is mentoring is relationship-oriented, whereas professional coaching is a more formal engagement. A mentor can advise, counsel, and consult with the protégé or mentee, while a coach coaches the client.

To further distinguish between coaching and mentoring, let’s look at the definition of coach, as defined by the International Coaching Federation:

“ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Mentee Benefits

The essence of a mentor is someone who has been there and done it, lending their experience and expertise to help you achieve more in life.

Some of the benefits of having a mentor can include:

  • Guidance of someone with a track record and more experience.
  • Advice on career, personal development, or your personal life.
  • The opportunity to learn and grow from them and their experience and expertise.
  • Becoming more self-aware.
  • Introductions and increased visibility.
  • Some leadership development.
  • Supporting learning and skill-building.
  • No cost to you or at a low cost to your employer.

Potential Gains from Being Mentored

Let’s lean into the wisdom of others to understand what you can gain from being mentored.

A mentor can give you the courage to move forward. There are many times in life when encouragement is needed.

“A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future, and believe it can be obtained.” Shawn Hitchcock (1961-present)

Those ever-present big life decisions are made far easier with a mentor in your life.

“One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.” John C. Maxwell (1947-present)

Remember, mentoring is all about you, your growth, and your uniqueness while taking in the mentor’s wisdom and guidance.

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg (1946-present)

A mentor will lend an ear without bias, let you ask honest and open questions, and occasionally give you a nudge.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” John Crawford Crosby (1859–1943)

A mentor shares their wisdom while helping you uncover more of your potential.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881)

A mentor can be a great teacher whose lessons help you see more, do more, and be more.

“The best teachers are those who tell you where to look — but don’t tell you what to see.” Alexandra K. Trenfor (1960-present)

A mentor is an encourager. They see your potential and help you find it within yourself to draw it out.

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” Bob Proctor (1935–2022)

A mentor must see the mentee as possessing all the seeds they need to grow. The mentor will help you find these seeds within yourself. With the mentor’s guidance, you will do the work to plant, water, ensure sunshine is available, and nurture the field, allowing your crop to grow and mature.

“You cannot transit wisdom and insight to another person. The seed is already there. A good teacher touches the seed, allowing it to wake up, to sprout, and to grow.” Thich Nhat Hanh (1926–2022)

Mutual Benefits

A mentor can benefit from learning to mentor you as you learn from them.

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” Phil Collins (1951-present)

The mentor may help you seek an opportunity they never got during their career or life. In turn, they will get the satisfaction of helping you achieve something new.

“What I think the mentor gets is the great satisfaction of helping somebody along, helping somebody take advantage of an opportunity that maybe he or she did not have.” Clint Eastwood (1930-present)

Final thoughts

The mentor and the mentee each benefit from the mentoring relationship. Mentors enhance their leadership skills and gain a tremendous sense of satisfaction from helping someone who is often younger with less experience than themselves. The mentor receives the added pleasure of seeing his protégé succeed.

Find a good mentor for your life and accelerate your ability to grow and thrive. You and those you love will benefit greatly!

If you wish to learn more about mentoring, search on YouTube for “mentor” and “mentoring.” You will find many good videos explaining mentoring and a few that attempt virtual mentoring. One channel I recommend you check out is My Mentor Jane.

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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