Why Whole-Life Mentoring?
“I already have a mentor.” “Why this?” “How is it different?” “Is this life coaching?”
At Leadership Design Group, we hear these questions often. In our years working in mentoring, we find two common misunderstandings that prevent individuals from living into all the possibilities of their unique design.
“Isn’t This Life Coaching?”
Do you remember your high school football coach? Or voice coach? Or any person with which you have had a coaching relationship? Coaches are experts. They have—or should have—many years of experience in the activity at hand. They know how to do it correctly; they know the common and uncommon errors. Their purpose is to teach you the correct way to perform the activity and to rid you of poor technique or performance. They know what you should do and their role is to help you to do it their way. In many such relationships, the coach is the master strategist. The coach plans the flow of the game and what the players’ roles will be.
Coaches can have a very important role in parts of our lives. But coaching is not mentoring. Mentors help you explore your own life and discover what it is that is holding you back—what is preventing you from living into all the possibilities of your design. Positive Mentors are experienced, to be sure. They may have walked paths that you have not walked. Our role, though, is to help you explore, to help you discover and to help you see the change needed in your life. Mentors do not direct or order one action over another. They certainly do not set the strategy for your life. Mentors help individuals and teams become self-directing and self-ordering in life-giving ways. This is what we mean by deep-change and transformational mentoring.
“I Already Have a Mentor at Work.”
Thousands and thousands of mentoring programs and approaches exist. The practice is in increasing demand in our world today. Most commonly, we find “mentors” in specific areas, some of whom are really coaching.
Think of mentors or mentoring programs you have known. Mentoring is common at work or in businesses. These mentors are focused on helping their protégée develop or perform at a higher level, usually in a particular and limited area of life. Business mentors help you become better in your vocation. A popular TV show “The Voice” has mentors who help contestants become better singers and performers.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with mentors for portions of our lives. In whole-life mentoring, we sometimes refer people to others who can help them more deeply in one particular area of life than we might be able to as their primary mentor.
Whole-life mentoring is quite different. The most effective mentors help individuals and teams explore, discover and change in every area of our 8-dimensional lives. Since we are full-dimensional people, any but a whole-life approach will neglect some area where we are not experiencing the fullness of what life could be. We are not living into all the possibilities of our unique design.
This is what we mean by intentional, whole-life mentoring.