Coach, Mentor, Guru - What Do They Have In Common?

Coach, Mentor, Guru – What Do They Have In Common?

September 17, 2014

What Is A Coach, Mentor, or Guru?
It isn’t necessary to highlight the actual definitions of these titles. It’s more important to understand the commonality & how to be even better at it.

Win Their Hearts & Minds Through Coaching

The ultimate question is whether you see yourself as a coach? From my perspective everyone is a coach.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an appointed coach or not, you are someone that others look to for wisdom, encouragement, strength, opinion, or advice. Yes, even if the only souls you touch are your children, that still counts. So, take this job seriously, because it’s the best one in the entire world.

The long list of titles that you could have do not matter…and you can call yourself a guru or a guide if you’d like. Shoot if you prefer, then go with Sherpa..not my favorite, but it’s a great one too!

Why Do You Love Being a Coach or Leader?

“Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them.” – Eddie Robinson

According to the athletic coaches, tour guides, teachers, and leaders I’ve asked, the common theme is that they all love coaching, because it is rewarding to see someone achieve something they never knew possible. It is rewarding to touch a life and be an influence.

Once you see that the commonality is having a passion towards other people, then it’s easy to create a coaching model as a leader that you can stand behind. Make everything you do as a coach all about “them”.

I never had a coaching model that ever worked. As a leader I always looked for one and I went through many classes on leading and learned many recommended approaches. The reality is that until I met a model that was in harmony with how I felt about people, none of it was going to stick.

How Can You Become A Better Coach, Mentor, or Guru?
This is easy…you’ve got this. Listen, Share, Collaborate, and Follow Up…it’s a conversation with a human being. Don’t over think this.

Can you visualize the best mentor or coach you’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from? What made that person “the best”? For me…each and every one of them asked me a lot of questions and they listened for as long as it took for me to get my thoughts/feelings out. It may be something different for you, but I bet it is either that they were great listeners/questioners or their observations about you and your actions were profound?

Let’s dive into the model that has made me a better coach and I hope it does the same for you –

Them: This is easy. You do all of the listening. Focus on the person you are coaching. Ask them questions. Probe into what they are thinking and how they are feeling.

Us: Share your observations, demonstrate or give a visual, share a video or discuss whatever it is you’d like to coach them on for improvement.

Fit: Discuss collaboratively what one thing they can do differently that you both agree would make the biggest impact. Yes, only one thing. If you have 20 things then meet with them more often and practice this model a lot. But only agree on the one thing.

Act: The best coaches follow up and ensure that there is follow up to the agreed upon change. And, then you repeat the cycle by asking them how they have felt by activating that change.

*The Summit Group does an excellent job in their Collaborative Leader Coach program in giving the participants an opportunity to experience this first hand through “real play”scenarios.
The Summit Group

Thank you to some of the most amazing mentors of a life time. You have made me a better stronger person, athlete, leader, and human being! Mom (June McAfee), Michael Cramer, Gene Wolff, Lew Hart, Kathy Crabtree, Andy Duenow, Eric Paul, Mireile Cottle, Steve Heitzner, Mike Waterman, Steve Joyce, Michael Murphy, Tom Kiely, James Robertson, Tinker Juarez & Elan Musk (Tinker & Elan are virtual coaches/mentors through their sheer brilliance and determination and that still counts in my book). Thank You!

This is not the list of people who touch my life and inspire me..that list is nauseatingly long (I’m inspired by someone every day). These are the people who spent time growing me as a leader. They always saw what I could be even when I did not believe in myself as much as they did.

“A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.” – Ara Parasheghian

If you’d like to share your favorite coaching moment or say thank you loudly to someone that has impacted your life profoundly, then please write to me at and I will share your story or at least share in your joy.