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Creative Mentoring

What is the difference between mentoring and coaching?

As a creative mentor, I often get asked about the difference between mentoring and coaching, so I thought it worth making a blog post about the two.

Personally, there are many reasons why I’ve mostly chosen to work with mentors rather than coaches. They’re also pretty similar to the reasons why I ended up going down the creative mentoring route rather than becoming a creative coach – although I must admit Cassie’s Creative Coaching does have a bit of a ring to it. Talk about an opportunity missed!

Although I dive more into this below, the main gist is that I like to work with someone who knows exactly where I’ve been and has faced the same problems I’m facing. And I want to help people sidestep and leap over those same problems, too.

While some people don’t believe mentoring is something that should be paid for in the same way that coaching is, I disagree. In my experience, working with my mentors has been like paying someone to show me the ropes, help me fill in my knowledge gaps, and give me some great feedback. It was worth its weight in gold.

But first, let’s talk more about what coaching and mentoring is and why you might choose to work with a mentor or work with a coach.

What are the differences between coaches and mentors?

While both coaching and mentoring have their own merits and can get people to the same results, the methods of getting there are very different. Mentoring is more focused on the what and the how, whereas coaching is more focused on the why.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a multi-billion dollar industry built around helping people reach their best potential, grow in the way they want to, and make longlasting changes in their life and business. Although coaching includes elements of mentorship, it is more structured and formalised, with pre-determined goals and a tried-and-tested methodology.

Over the last few decades, coaching has also split into more niche areas to help address different problems. There are coaches – and coaching programs – designed to help you tackle any areas of your life you may feel like you’re struggling with, from life to relationships, business, parenting, ADHD, and finances. 

Coaching can be delivered one-on-one or via group programs, but it usually requires multiple sessions to work best.

What is mentorship?

On the other hand, mentors are often people who are a few steps further ahead of where you want to be. Mentors pave the way to help you get from where you are to where you want to go much faster and more easily while providing support and assistance along the journey. Traditionally part of the workplace, where senior leaders took juniors under their wing and taught them the tricks of the trade, mentorship has grown into a huge industry of its own. 

Working with a mentor usually offers more customised and bespoke help tailored to your exact circumstances and struggles. Mentorship tends to focus more on one-on-one services which can be delivered via one-off or multiple sessions. Read more about creative mentoring on my blog posts, “What is creative mentoring?” and “Why work with a creative mentor?”

How can you apply this to creative business mentoring or creative business coaching?

Say, if you’re building a creative business, creative business mentoring can help you build your business from the ground up. Working with a creative business mentor means you can save a lot of time and effort by having someone who has been there explaining what to do and how to do it. Mentors can also provide firsthand knowledge and share their experience so you can learn from their mistakes.

On the other hand, working with a creative business coach can help you figure out the exact reasons why you want to build the business. They can help you learn where to look to find the information you need, move past resistance and blocks, and shore up your foundations enough to be able to figure out all the nitty-gritty stuff on your own.

Which is better, coaching or mentoring?

Truth is, there are many reasons why someone might opt to work with a mentor or a coach or vice versa.

Working with a mentor is usually a more hands-on, tailored experience that helps to transport you from where you are to where you want to go – a bit like how going on a guided tour when you’re on holiday helps to give you a deeper knowledge of where you’re visiting and give you the chance to ask lots of questions.

You’ll learn a lot about that place you’ve been, but you won’t be able to apply that same information to every other place you visit in the future.

On the other hand, coaching is a bit like being given a series of skills, a map, and a guidebook. While your coach is usually on-hand for support and to ask questions, working with a coach is more like you’re being set up for life and all your future trips by learning how to read a map and the guidebook.

Along with learning those basic skills, you’ll also get really clear about why you want to travel and all the reasons you want to get out and see the world so you can help make informed choices moving forward.

Why I chose to go into creative mentoring

Personally, I’m someone who has spent a lot of time exploring those sorts of deep questions and getting really clear about what I want and why I want it.

So, when it comes to investing my money in support, I want to work with someone who can help get me where I want to go. I want to work one-on-one with someone who has been where I am and knows what will help me get through the sticky stuff faster, and I want a customised, tailored-to-me approach. 

While I have worked with coaches in the past, I’ve realised that working with mentors is more my style.

I also set up my mentoring business because I want to help people who are where I was and who are struggling with the same things I was struggling with. Therefore it makes sense for me to structure my business as a creative mentor rather than a creative coach.

For more information about my creative mentoring services, visit my creative mentoring page. You can also fill out my mentoring form here to enquire about booking a free 15-minute discovery call.

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