I have often told my clients in the past that “I am not a life coach.” This was said with a fair degree of what my mother would have called “snootiness” (Dictionary Definition = Arrogance)) Surely, heavy weight business coaches like me don’t do that personal “touchy feely” stuff!
However, there have been many occasions when my business coaching has inevitably strayed into the realm of the personal. Whether that looked like a CEO not seeing enough of his children or a senior executive trying to cope with serious illness.
So was that life coaching or something else?
As I’ve said in an earlier post, I believe life coaching and life mentoring are significantly different. In the case of the CEO and senior executive, they were not only looking for help to work things out, but looking to tap into the lived experience of another trusted advisor. They would ask questions such as “how much time did you spend with your children as you built your businesses” or “how did you cope with your prostrate cancer, psychologically and commercially?”
My understanding is that a Life Coach should never be guiding a client based on his or her own experience, but rather should use coaching techniques to help the client figure it out for themselves. A Life Mentor on the other hand will have used the same questioning techniques used in life coaching to establish the client’s goals, options and current position but will in addition be prepared to offer specific advice based on his or her own experience.
As always the choice of action remains with the client but at times a Life Mentor will have to be prepared to answer that crucial question “what would you do if you were me?”
This is what a Life Mentor does. She uses a coaching methodology to understand her client’s position, thinking and options, before, if requested by the client, offering her opinion, based on actual experience, on possible or appropriate ways forward.
I am anticipating some robust discussion on this topic.