We were wondering what people think coaching is, and decided to find out. My marketing manager, Kathy Bardins, of Bardins Communications, and I invited a group of women over the other day to ask.

We learned that about half the women had some executive experience with coaching, and they reported a mixed bag of positive and negative experiences, depending on the corporation. Few in attendance had worked with a personal coach. Several believed in the importance of coaching younger people, especially women and girls. The youngest professional in the group, at 23, said she had no negative stigma attached to working with a coach and wondered why she wouldn’t do everything she could to advance her career and enhance her life. The older women believed there is a negative social stigma associated with coaching, as if coaching is for people who can’t make it on their own.

During the conversation, I asked their thoughts about the difference between coaching and mentoring.

Coaching Listen MentoringMentors teach what they know, and guide mentees in learning about their area of expertise. Mentors instruct, direct, and may even monitor results.

Coaches inquire, partnering with clients to gain internal awareness and discern answers. Coaches ask relevant questions, and clients determine what’s best.

Mentors and coaches are, thus, quite different. Mentors, consultants, and advisors are similar in offering information. Coaches are trained to listen intently, ask clarifying questions, and support clients in realizing their wisdom.

Neuroscience has proven…

…that we are at our best when we are creating. I believe that through creativity, we realize innate happiness. In our society, people are busy beyond reason, and often unhappy. It starts in education when we are told what to learn, how and when to learn, then measured on what someone else decided was important. In other words, creativity is lost. Sadly, when creativity goes, so does joy. A primary component in coaching is creatively returning people to the point of inherent joy.

Coaches have an important role in the world, as do mentors. Please remember, the roles are different. Since neither “field” is regulated, it’s up to us, the people, to know and share the difference. True so with joy. Are you creating joy and inspiring others in theirs?

By the end of our info gathering session last week, we had discovered a unified interest in supporting girls and young women who don’t have the financial resources to hire a coach. And we learned that while individual coaching may not be of interest to everyone, regularly scheduled gatherings for meaningful conversation and learning is deeply valued and wanted. Now, to these ends, plans are being created to make that become a reality.