What is the difference between a coach, therapist, mentor, and sponsor?
What is a coach in the sense of a Career coach or a Life Coach?
A life and career coach is a person who is trained to help you discover and achieve an outcome that you desire. This desired result could be in any area of your life. If you Google “Life Coach” you’ll find mindset, executive, career, sexual intimacy, relationship, health and wellness, weightless, parents of special need children coaches – just to name a few.
These are all “life coaches” who have niched down to one area of coaching. Coaches often focus on the area where they can offer the greatest value to a client. A coach does not directly tell you exactly what you should do. Coaches work with you to find and discover the obstacles in your path (which are most often in your mind). They are skilled at showing you when it is your brain that is blocking your results. They will also be able to validate an external challenge, then develop strategies to deal with and overcome external obstacles. This is how a coach will supercharge your career.
What is the difference between a coach and a therapist?
The purpose of most therapies is to heal, or ease symptoms of an issue that is troubling the client. I believe a functioning adult can be best helped by a life coach. Especially if you are trying to achieve some kind of outcome and not relieve mental struggles alone. This is completely dependent on the specific therapist or coach, their personality, and the method they use with their clients. If you are working with a therapist and not achieving the outcomes you want, it’s time to consider a coach.
When a client’s non-functioning, due to substance abuse, depression, or other mental challenges – an ethical life coach will refer them to a licensed therapist. As a coach, I’ll discuss your past issues if it’s creating thoughts for you that don’t serve your desired outcome. Yet, I tend to be a future-focused coach. The process I use will honor your past to fuel you and to develop the mindset to accomplish your aspirations.
What is the difference between a mentor and a coach?
You might already have a mentor with who you meet regularly. If so – that is excellent and is one thing you should do. Successful people who take the time to mentor others are changing the world one person at a time. A mentor is NOT a coach. The ideal mentor for you is someone who has already achieved some goals you want to achieve.
If you want to start a business, become a CEO, lose 30 pounds, or save a million dollars: find someone who’s already achieved that goal. Spend time talking with them and asking them questions. How did they achieve this? What steps did they take? How and what did they learn? What would they do differently if they had it to do again? Did they take any courses, what college degrees did they have? Did they work at different organizations?
What is a sponsor and how will they help your career?
I am going to talk about Sponsor in the sense of a “Career” sponsor. I don’t hear people use this word outwardly very often, other than in content like the theme of today’s podcast. Still, sponsors should and do exist. In fact, as we do the work to move toward powerfully inclusive workplaces, I think that sponsors will be required to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
A sponsor is literally someone who actually kicks down a door. They bring someone to the table. Often, they provide direct access and knowledge, access to inner circles, and open up a strategic vision. A sponsor is not necessarily a mentor, in that they may not meet with you regularly and give you advice. (Although, it is possible you could have a mentor who is also acting as a sponsor.) They realize that you have something special, that you have a high potential for senior leadership in the organization. They use their position and leverage to remove some of your obstacles.
A career coach will partner with you to up-level your future
You can see all of these people can and would help you, depending on what you are looking for. Only a life coach is going to gain a deep understanding of what you want out of life. They will work WITH you to develop a custom plan that will help you achieve the outcome you desire. A life coach has the skillset to notice when you are taking actions not in line with your goals. They will work with you to make sure that YOU notice this. A life coach will help you figure out why you took actions in conflict with your goals. A coach will work with you to create the mindset to stay on plan more often.
It is easy to understand this concept when you are thinking weight loss or personal trainers. One example I like to use is a “Golf Pro”. Golf is actually a very mental sport. I had a friend tell me that before anyone ever picks up a set of clubs, they should hire a Golf Pro. Once you start swinging the club wrong, it’s harder to correct than if you learn properly from the beginning.
The difference a life coach will make
Watch people swing clubs, watch them over and over and over and compare the swing to the result of where the ball goes compared to what they intended. The person swinging the club makes changes to their stance, grip, the club they are using, the way they read the wind – depending on the previous result. The question is – did they make the right adjustment? There are so many adjustments that could be made. If that person is making changes without any outside observer, they are likely missing the adjustment that would make the biggest difference of all.
A Golf Pro watching from the side will notice and can make adjustments immediately, then – along with further reps and sets will check the results and make further adjustments, based on data, knowledge, mindset coaching, or whatever they believe is needed to help their client improve their game. This is exactly the same thing a career coach can do for you.
A career coach will help you gain critical self-awareness
Have you ever met someone in the workplace who seems oblivious to their behaviors that are driving everyone crazy? Have you ever had a leader who gets sidetracked, talks too long, has no sense of time, etc.? Do you ever wish someone could tell them how much this is harming not only their own productivity but that of all the others as well? Have you resolved that you want to be a leader in your organization but you definitely want to be much more self-aware? Then, very much like a golf pro – a career coach would help you in more ways than you can imagine.
3 types of people who should NOT get a career coach
- People who are not willing to know the hard things about themselves or have no intention to improve or change. If you are not interested in improving or in growth and if you are satisfied with the status quo, a career coach is not a useful investment for you.
- People who are not willing to make the coaching session a non-negotiable appointment in their schedule, and not willing to find the time to do the work outside of the session, when required. If you hire a life coach and then cancel or miss appointments or blow off any work given for your self-improvement – then you are throwing your money in the trash. Coaching absolutely will change your life IF you are willing to do the work. In fact, coaching like this will 100% improve your career more than another degree or more education IF you do not believe you deserve to achieve the goal you are chasing.
- People who look at coaching as a commodity and are looking for the cheapest price should NOT get a career coach. This is definitely a situation where you will get what you pay for. If you are truly interested in getting a career or life coach, then look for the value this coach brings instead. What do you know about the coach you are considering hiring? Do they bring specific expertise? What do you know about their approach or their process?
- Coaching does not require certifications, by law, of any kind. There are many organizations that do regulate and certify coaches, of all various disciplines, to use their credentials and put a stamp of approval to say they received some kind of training – but even an 18-year-old could make a website and call themselves a life coach. If that is what you are looking for in a coach – they are certainly out there. So, make sure you know why you want a coach, the outcome you are looking to achieve, and then consider their personality and yours, their expertise – and then consider the time you spend with them one of the best investments you could ever make in yourself.
10 Reasons you need a Career and Life Coach
- Have a goal that you really want, but you are afraid or don’t believe in yourself enough to move toward it.
- Never make sustainable progress toward a goal.
- Feel stuck and don’t see a way out.
- Want to dramatically speed up the path to an outcome you desire.
- If you overwhelmed at where to start and feel like you are going in circles.
- Feel like your life is a mess (money, family, career). You want more, but you don’t have enough time to get the basic things done. How can you plan for something better?
- Are successful, but you hate your job and want to move toward a more purpose-based career. It is hard to believe you could find something to replace this salary with a new career you love.
- Spend so much time with electronics, anxiety, stress, spinning. if you manage your mind more often, you’d find time to plan a path forward.
- Want to increase your lifetime earning potential.
- The decision to hire a coach is an investment and a commitment you make in yourself. It is a decision that you are no longer playing small. You are ready to get serious, to go pro. You are ready to reach for your highest potential self.