Mentors, Coaches & Guides...What’s the difference?
Life's a school, and we are constantly being schooled - agree?
Now since we do (or maybe we don't but since I'm the one writing, I get to call the shots), let's discuss the teachers that life presents our way. Yes, of course, the biggest teacher is experience, but let's take a moment to the focus on the ones that we can immediately spot, shall we?
I'm not even going to dive into the most iconic mentors for me; i.e. my dad and mom, my dad more than my mom because I could not have asked for a greater guide than him - he for me, is a class-apart, and absolutely incomparable. Undoubtedly, I cannot not mention the iconic school teachers, and college professors because let's be honest, they will always be unforgettable - good, bad, or hilariously comical; those mentors are irreplaceable.
In my very modest opinion, differentiating the mentors from the instructors is key to any knowledge your ever-learning mind is exposed to.
For example, there are leaders or aspirational figures that we aspire to be like, whether it is lifestyle, fitness, intellect, so on and so forth - but would they come under the bracket of being guides, or merely influencers? Then there are those dailies that we are surrounded by, could be family, friends, and colleagues that are those constant coaches guiding, possibly even influencing you in their methodology of tackling things? Of course, then comes in the obvious genre, of the kind of bosses you have, and their leadership style.
Which of these is the right kind of mentor? Who can you really trust to learn from?
I remember, professionally speaking my first ever mentor was a twenty-eight-year-old woman I worked with and she confused the life out of me. Fierce, eccentric, sharp with piercing humor, that's how I would describe her. There were times, I'd be traumatized with chills running down my spine at her low-pitched rhetoric question addressing my lack of know-how, and then there were those contrast late work evenings during which we would share life stories over Chinese take-out in the office, laughing and giggling away like there was no tomorrow.
One person, two extreme personalities.
She was a tough one, and I was an inexperienced junior with not enough skill, or knowledge of how the corporate world worked. I remember hating myself for not being sharp enough or repeatedly making ridiculous avoidable errors which eventually bred an insecurity within of just not being good enough. Over a few months, her toughness got me quadruple checking anything that had my name signed off on, with always having three back up solutions should the first one fall apart. After having received a promotion within eight months of working at that firm, which felt like the biggest validation, I handed in my resignation and quit. As a young twenty-something, I consoled myself that I didn't deserve to be constantly feeling like this, or I'd find someone who would treat me better.
As a thirty-year-old, while I look back at all that she trained me for in those eight months, have been the very foundation of my entire career. Had it not been for her equipping me to toughen up, the next few years of my life would have had a very different landscape. She was a passing force in my life and was kind enough to share her very energy with me.
My second mentor was much kinder. She, for some reason, had more faith in me than I ever did in myself, at that time. When I worked with her, she gave me complete liberty to call the shots, and even better, back my say on whatever it may have been. It was funny to experience feeling complete incompetence to uncompromising confidence. My self-esteem was having a ball and had twirled a complete three-sixty. I genuinely believe that I found her at the right time, and she me. In more ways than I could count, she fixed my bruised self-worth with her kindness, enabled me to trust myself which got me blooming.
That's the thing with humans, they are kind of like plants - you soak them in the sun too much, they dry out, and if you deprive them of sunlight, they'll wilt away. The trick with plants and humans is a balance of both.
The second mentor backed me most of the time until the decisions I made lacked rationale. Hitting that sweet spot of enabling me to bloom, yet keeping me grounded.
In the last few months of exploration, I have come across a lot of "mentors" and "guides," yet hadn't found a force the kind that the first or second have been, until recently. An individual with a highly contagious laugh tackling each problem with humor, with a wealth of knowledge, and more patient than patience itself.
But hold on, barring these three aside, how can I omit all that my environment, the people around me have taught me? My mind, and nature has been influenced by so many that I am surrounded by; whether intentional or not, my actions and core have been massively shaped by the very many greats that have gotten me to be all that I embody.
When I pause to look back I realize that there are mentors all around me; I am in essence after all a product of the people that have surrounded me.
To all those mentors, coaches and guides, you know who you are, thank you for being the influence that you have been, you lot have been my storyscapers.
With love, and gratitude,
Stories By Giggles
P.S: Go on, and thank your mentor force. Express the energy they have parted with you.