The second most frequent question I’m asked is “What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?”

I’m asked this because I am a mentor. I’m other things too as you will see, including a coach, but this question comes up time and again, and the answers I’ve heard others give have made me think deeply about this.

We (human’s that is) do like to find commonality and differences – differentiate and associate – and sometimes form judgements based on what we hear, and this old chestnut about coaches and mentors is a case in point. There are some strong opinions out there!

If you know me you will know I have been many things in my life, and my LinkedIn profile will attest to that. I still have an insatiable desire for learning – new experiences, new skills, new understanding.

One of my mentors used to say that “wisdom is the application of knowledge based on experience”. One of my favourite quotes (not sure who, Google can’t decide) is that “knowledge is of no value unless shared with others. I am not referring to the “knowledge is power” poster!

Last year I started a three-year course to gain a professional qualification in Psychotherapy; to gain experience and skills to be a psychotherapeutic counsellor. My close friends understand this – how this fits with my other skills, and why I am motivated to do this. It is all about helping other people – and especially entrepreneurs at any point in their journey. From start-up to exit.

This year I am going to focus my blog posts on two things – this is the main one. The Spectrum of Helping, and all that it entails. Although my primary “market” for helping is entrepreneurs, the lessons I have learned along my journey, which are encapsulated in the diagram below, apply equally in any business setting where you are helping someone.

This is my first post of the year (2017) so I’m introducing the model, and will post more on specifics later. When taken in a wider context, the question above (the differences between mentors and coaches) can be seen to be a small subset of the many ways in which we can help someone in business.

And these “ways of helping” do not have definitive boundaries, like many things in life. There are blurry lines between them, this is a continuum, a spectrum, a set of skills. Many people who are, or have been, in business will have some of these skills. Many chose one way to deliver them – maybe two.

What if? What if instead of the helper picking a methodology, they consulted with the client and determined the best methodology for that client – based on their needs, their preferences and their circumstances. And delivered help in the best way for the client?

For my part I have never (that I can recall) been an interim manager. I have been everything else on the spectrum and with my developing Hypnotherapy skills I am on the first steps of the ladder to becoming a counselling helping.

And the most frequent question I get is “will you invest in our start-up?”!

The Spectrum of Helping for Entrepreneurs

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