Mentor, Coach or Therapist – maybe all three
Sometimes it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel or it is difficult to create strategies for executing change on your own. Getting the help from a mentor, professional coach or therapist can make a huge difference in the outcomes you want. When you have difficulty navigating past or through issues, there are many reasons to request assistance. Depending on the issue, you may need help from a mentor, coach or therapist – or all three. It’s important to know who to ask and to have realistic expectations for the possible outcomes from each interaction. Your motivation can be as strong desire to fix something, yet the type of assistance you request and ultimately receive may be very different from each of these sources.
No one has a magic wand.
Two constants in life are that no one can solve your problems for you and no one has a magic wand. Whether you are seeking advice from a coach, mentor or therapist, your full participation and commitment is required to make progress toward your goal. Your willingness to learn and change your behavior and/or approach is also critical to your ultimate success. Valuable guidance typically comes with a price. It may be a financial cost for services from a coach or therapist and undoubtedly will require an investment of time. If you are ready to get the help you need, then it is time to evaluate who is available and what you need from them.
Find a mentor. Mentors can come in many forms. It can be someone you work for or with, or it can be part of the role of a hired coach, depending on what you need to learn or gain. A mentor may be someone you know well or perhaps be referred to. The role of an unpaid “mentor” vs. a paid coach has subtle differences. Free is not always better or more available. Any help from a mentor should not be taken for granted and there should be no assumptions. It’s important to review their background and experience to know what it is you hope to gain, then talk to them about what they are prepared to provide. Based on their experience and how relevant it is, you can then agree on how the relationship will work. As an unpaid resource, it is important to show a mentor respect for their time and input, and to establish boundaries so you are not put in a position to overstep or burn a bridge.
Obtain the services of a coach. Coaches come in all forms and with a number of specialties. Life coaches may address more than employment issues and career coaches may ultimately address some personal issues in your life that impact your work, to some degree. A coach’s area of focus, approach, availability and rates are some very basic points to cover. Discussing, style, personality and a demonstrated commitment to your success may take more time and are also very important. As a coach, I can initially describe my style to a new client, but how interactions play out over time may look different to everyone. It’s been my experience that clients that were referred to me based on recommendations from a trusted source that has a long term relationship with me have worked well. It’s also worked well when the referring source knew the person needing help long enough to know what they need or what may work best for them. Optimally, a referral can be a safer route than relying on a fancy website.
Nothing’s working? Get a therapist! I learned long ago that I can only be a good coach to someone that is able and willing to make a change. I run across issues that symptomatically show there is something deeper in the way than what we may be superficially dealing with. In those cases, I recommend that my clients enlist the help of a professional trained to dig into the root cause of certain behaviors to help them enact long lasting change. I continue to work with them on strategies for addressing issues at work and developing plans for achieving their goals, while the therapist works on the deep rooted issues that may be creating stumbling blocks for moving forward with the commitments we have set.
No one has all the answers and it’s not much fun feeling like you’re alone on an island. It’s my belief that we are all stronger when we face issues with a sense of community and with a team. If you are feeling like you want a change, need a change and are ready for a change, then it is time to start investigating ways to get the help you need to get started.