Avoid This Trap If You Want To Be A Better Mentor.

“silhouette of man standing on high ground under red and blue skies” by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash
Learn it.
Live it.
Teach it
Jairek Robbins.

The above is the Way of the Coach — you have a skill which others want to learn.

You came to teach because you care.

You perhaps have endured the pain and suffering of one of life’s “disasters”.

You have known failure but you overcame.

You experienced the nadir of existence but have since risen majestically.

You felt it so badly you have a burning need to share with others -to show them that you understand where they are at and how they too can overcome adversity.

And so you have a passion to improve the lives of others as you have improved your own.

The client warms to you immediately as a connection is made “this person really gets me — knows who I am — knows how to help me” and so a contract is formed and teaching commences.

We as the Consultant are detached from our clients past- we don’t take on any of their innate “blocks” which they have nourished and fed — so we can sweep them aside with rapier-like insight.

And so changing entrenched destructive habits is easy.

Advising on shortcuts,tools and techniques which we have taken the time to research,trial and test ourselves works magically as our client marvels at our perspicacious advice.

The teacher/pupil relationship deepens.

The bond cements.


In our desire to help and to produce rapid results the Coach becomes tempted to do too much.

It’s like doing your child’s homework for them — it doesn’t happen all the time and it does kinda creep up on you but suddenly it’s there.

It might start with you opening up your Rolodex to them (does that term even exist anymore ?) — ok inviting them to connect to your more personal network.

It might develop into you making that all important phone call for them — no no don’t do it !!

It might even be “could YOU just have a word with my wife/husband/partner/boss FOR ME — say no pleaseeee !!

Before you know where you are “you the teacher are living your clients life for them” and that is NOT teaching.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” Lao Tzu.

If you’re going to do it for me why should I do it ?

The problem starts with much of our traditional schooling where OBEDIENCE is more important than RESPONSIBILITY.

How on earth can we learn personal responsibility when in many schools there is a regime of:
learn by rote
revise by rote
regurgitate in exams by rote.

And so when someone graduates and becomes a college student and has to take responsibility for assignments they are LOST — no one has taught them how to be responsible for studying.

And so the mentor/client relationship can fall back into old learned ways.

I have had a couple of clients who wanted mentorship on starting their own businesses.

When nearing their point of no return and actually giving up the day job they asked if they could go into partnership with me.
Of course I said no.

Where do you draw the line ?

Would you provide an opinion on the big questions in a person’s life ?

  1. Would you give a decision on whether to leave the security of salaried employment ?
  2. Would you advise on leaving a relationship — perhaps even advocating divorce ?
  3. Would you give an indicator of your feelings on suicide ?

Like most experienced coaches I have been quizzed on all three of these issues and we all know the theory of “leading your client to their answer” but clients can be very devious in inveigling an opinion from the mentor.

The remit should be the same — it is not the teacher’s place to take responsibility for their client’s decisions however with skill,experience, care and love the teacher can remove the blocks which obscure clarity.

By patiently asking the right questions.

By gently silencing the mind chatter.

By eliminating the carousel of other people’s opinions.

Indeed the client can uncover the wisdom which resides in all of us and which is waiting to be called upon to solve any and all of our Life Lessons.

The price of greatness is responsibility.” ~ Winston Churchill.

Let us teach our mentees to take Responsibility so that they release the Greatness Within them.