A mentor is a figure that’s getting more common in our days. Even though the concept existed for many years before getting the buzz from many of the well-known names in the current business world, most of us have had a family member or friend fulfilling that position or resorting to it in case of need.

For me, the definition of a mentor centers on someone I admire and aspire to be in the future, but I never considered the importance of having a coach as well.

While discussing this with the host organization I’m currently collaborating with, and who happens to be building its own mentorship program for youth in Guatemala and Honduras, we pondered on the main duties of mentors and how they focus on sharing their own experiences and providing a guide before navigating into a new path.

But then it also became obvious to us, that counting on a coach can enhance said perspective positively, especially when there’s an idea involved, a project we are meant to accomplish, or simply setting our life goals.

Later that week I had the amazing opportunity to meet one on one with Atlas Corps CEO, Bidjan Nashat (and who was also celebrating his first-anniversary guiding leaders from all over the world- congrats again Bidjan!), here in the city that never sleeps.

While the other fellows and I were having a very insightful talk with Bidjan, I decided to bring this topic to the table and get his input on the idea. And to summarize our discussion, he pointed out that a mentor offers advice and a coach asks questions. A mentor provides a perspective from his or her own point of view while a coach pushes for self-reflection.

With that approach in my head, I began to wonder at what point on the road to turning potential into real success, both the coach and the mentor decide to get in the same car or each hit the ground running with their own route.

In both cases, I figured there’s a bonding process that takes place between both parties, creating a safe space to ask the rawest questions, and in return, get the most honest answers. But from my own knowledge, a mentor doesn’t disappear once the triumph is secured, nevertheless, they stay and push for more success.

Mentoring can be a long-term commitment, but that doesn’t mean that every piece of advice is always useful. And it’s in that moment when a coach is a great resource that allows us to learn in depth from someone skilled in a particular area, with a higher level of qualification.

A coach can help by providing guidance towards taking a significant step, and a mentor can be essential while you decipher how this step is part of your entire journey.

Mentoring and coaching can be complicated and time-consuming tasks. Considering the mentee or coached individual’s objectives, highlighting their abilities, and giving accurate suggestions to improve aspects that need more attention or require more effort. But there are rewards for both sides, coaching and mentoring can become a virtuous cycle of learning about others and about ourselves: Gaining experience on the equal.

So today while reading this article I want you to think about who would choose as a mentor and whom you would like to have as a coach, because there is no need to choose. If any or both of these roles already have a name in your head, you are a very lucky person, but if you don’t, no worries, it’s never too late to keep learning or share what you know.


Thumbnail photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash