As a coach, I’m an expert in the coaching process and raising my clients’ consciousness. As a consultant, I restrict myself to opportunities related to organizational psychology since that’s my specialty. So, suppose my coaching clients want specific business strategy advice, setting company policies and protocols (or worse, their social media marketing and advertising plan), I ask them to seek a mentor.
All great coaches follow this practice because they understand that a mentor can share invaluable perspectives to resolve specific business challenges, thanks to their vast experience.
Clients often confuse them with consultants, who’re service providers, and can help you execute a plan. A good mentor has your best interests in mind and can share insights that will help you make sound decisions. And that very well might be to hire a consultant!
But there are a couple of caveats while seeking mentorship:
- Be respectful of your mentor’s time and effort — merely listening to their perspective isn’t enough. They value and expect action from you. So, implement, take notes, go back to them with more questions if you get stuck or fail. They’ll be delighted to share with you additional perspectives to help you get unstuck. That’s how the relationship works. Most people believe in gathering advice that they have no intention to take action on. That’s so damn irritating! If you want entertainment, please go to YouTube, don’t waste a person’s valuable time. And if your argument is to “chill out” because “most of the information is free on the internet.” I can tell that you’re a freeloader, but I still agree, and you should probably stick with the internet.
- Invest in the relationship, literally. I strongly believe in paying for mentorship. Two reasons: it helps them monetize the valuable time they’re spending with you, it helps you stay committed and follow through on their advice, and most importantly, you will take the relationship seriously. Money is a strong motivator.
Now, I understand how expensive opting for a mentor in addition to a coach can be, but it’s an investment that keeps on giving. I know that from experience as I have two coaches and four mentors! And it has been a transformational experience. There’s a saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” I think it takes at least half a dozen wise people to raise a leader!
Having coaches and mentors doesn’t work if you aren’t willing to do the work. Even God can’t bless you with the most incredible opportunities if you’re committed to sabotaging your growth!
Listen, life is hard, and it’s hard to go alone. The best you can do is seek counsel from people who’re better and ahead of us on the path we want to tread. And if you can’t afford one right now, I understand, start with books. Pick an author whose work you admire (not talking about fiction here), study the principles they’re trying to teach, apply, take notes, share with others, and figure out if there’s a way to engage with the author directly. If not now, perhaps, sometime in the future.
I did precisely that a few years ago. I’ve been reading, studying, and following Dr. John Maxwell for years. And in due course, I had developed this desire to seek him out as a mentor. But I knew I couldn’t afford to work with him. In 2017, I serendipitously got an opportunity to work with his team for mentorship and coaching. I took action, and believe me, it was one of the best decisions I’d taken for my personal and leadership growth.
Get a mentor, please. It’s an investment that will keep on giving for years. I like what Seneca had to say about mentors:
“Choose a master whose life, conversation, and soul-expressing face have satisfied you … For we must indeed have someone according to whom we may regulate our characters; you can never straighten that which is crooked unless you use a ruler.”
Don’t overthink this.