I was recently lucky enough to hear listen to a fantastic teacher named Chris Robinson who helps people become better leaders. During his talk he said something that really struck me deeply and I felt the need to share.  When it comes to coaches and mentors there are two ways to find them and enlist them to help you or your business.  What he said I disagreed with at first but then once I started thinking about it I realized that it was true, even for all of the coaches and mentors I had had in my life.

During his presentation he said that you can either “Seek to Serve” or you can “Pay to Play” when it comes to coaches and mentors.  The best mentors I have had in my life have always come when I was looking to help them and they reciprocated back to me.  My best coaches have always come when I paid to play.  I also think that there is an important distinction between coaches and mentors that needs to be addressed.

When it comes to mentors, I believe that these are people that you DON’T pay for their support and advice.  These are people who want to help you out, the reason doesn’t and shouldn’t matter, but you know that they have your back, that they will support you through whatever you need, and most importantly, the relationship is not defined by a fee.  A great mentor is something every business owner needs to have, not should have, but needs to have.  It should be someone who is where you want to be in your business or life.  It should be someone that inspires you and someone that you look up to.  They likely won’t be in the same niche as you, because then it could cause a conflict of interest.  Also it’s best for them to be in a different niche so that you can get ideas and ways of thinking that are outside of the box for your industry.

On the other hand we have coaches.  I have always seen coaches as the pay to play type of people.  You pay them for their time and they help you achieve a goal over a period of time.  They can be just as powerful if not more powerful than a mentor, however often the relationship is defined or constrained by the fee, and will end at a designated time or at the end of the payment.  This is not to say that a great coach can’t become a great mentor.  This has personally been my experience, I have had several great coaches that then turned into mentors.

I believe that there is a time and place for both coaches and mentors in our lives.  I also think that knowing the difference between someone that you are seeking to serve and paying to play with is important.  How you approach things like their time, the questions you ask, the results you are looking for are all very different.

For example, with my mentors I am very conscious of how I use their time.  I know that they are just as busy if not busier than I am and as such I want to be respectful of how I use their time.  I always want to make sure that if I am asking for something, I am giving something in return, and I would like that something to be as valuable if not more valuable than what I took.  They are helping me achieve more and I want to know what I can do in that same arena for them.

On the other hand with coaches, it is often that we have defined a goal and a time to achieve that goal.  Since I am paying to play, I am going to use as much of their time as I have access to.  After all I did pay for that time, and we are trying to achieve a goal, and there is no excuse for not making the most of anything you pay to get.

When you start looking for coaches and mentors in your business and in your life (I think you need some of each in both of those areas) keep in mind how you are defining your relationship and make sure you make the most out of it no matter which way it is going.  With that said I would love to know who some of the most inspiring mentors or coaches you have had are?  Tell me who it was in the comments below!

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