You may have noticed that in the Netherlands every other person is a coach of some sort. A phenomenon that hardly exists in some countries or cultures. Why is that? Well, realising that you need help and asking for help from a trainer, coach or mentor is seen as a strength in the Netherlands rather than a weakness as in some cultures.
However, before going into why or how one chooses to be a coach, trainer or even a mentor, it is important to know the difference between the three terms.
What is the difference?
So, what is the difference between these three terms?
A coach is someone who does not tell you what you should do when faced with a dilemma or problem but instead asks you the right questions that help you to reflect intensely until you come up with the right solution for yourself. In other words, the answer is lying within you, a coach just helps you to find it yourself.
A trainer is someone who provides you with a set of tools and skills that will enable you to navigate certain situations or problems that can arise in your life or career. They transfer knowledge of how and when to use diverse skills, thus enabling you to be self-reliant, confident and professional.
Usually, you will find mentors in the organisation where you are working. If you are new to the organisation, you might be coupled with a mentor. A mentor will usually show you the way around in the office, work or new country until you are settled in. A mentor is a practical question box, in the sense, helping you navigate the work and system within an organisation.
Why and how does a person choose to be a coach, trainer or mentor?
When a person lands in a situation or problem at a certain point in life that person goes through a process. The knowledge and experience this person has gained in order to overcome such situations are valuable to others who have yet to face the situation or who are also facing the same problem and need the key or tools to navigate the situation themselves. Once this person decides to use their personally discovered key or tools to help others to bridge or navigate a problem, then they become a coach, trainer or mentor.
For example, over 26 years ago, I migrated to the Netherlands. A totally different world than the one I had left behind. A strange land with a different culture and customs than my own. In the 26 years I have been here, I learned to navigate all sorts of challenges and obstacles in my new situation. After all these years, I can say I have eventually cracked the code of living and working between cultures in the Netherlands. There were times when I thought: had I known this 26 years ago, it would have made my navigation so much easier…. So now as an intercultural trainer, I use my knowledge and experience to help and train managers and people in an international team to work successfully with confidence and professionalism.
3 reasons why people choose to have a trainer, coach, or mentor
So, why do people choose to have a trainer, coach or mentor?
1. You don’t have to rediscover the wheel
The coach, trainer or mentor has already found the wheel. All you have to do is reach out and ask for the key, code or wheel to navigate the situation you are in. This way you can spend your energy and time on helping others with your talents and competence.
2. The bigger picture
If you are in a situation, you may not be able to see a way out. But someone who is not in the same situation as you may see the bigger picture and help you see or find other perspectives and solutions better and faster.
3. Avoiding pitfalls
Some people prefer to use a coach or trainer even before a situation arises. In other words, they would like to know the various potential pitfalls of certain actions or decisions beforehand and anticipate them on time or avoid them.
There are cultures where asking for help is taboo and seen as a weakness, and to invest money in yourself or your self-development is seen as being arrogant or selfish. To them, I would like to explain something using the oxygen mask example. If you have been on an aeroplane, you must have experienced the flight attendant giving a safety measure demonstration. During the oxygen mask demonstration, you will be advised to put on the mask yourself first before helping your child or anyone else. Have you ever thought about why that is? Just for the simple fact that if you are without oxygen yourself, you will not be in a state to help anyone.
When the student is ready
A coach or trainer is not the one to point out that you need help. They do not proactively approach you to offer their assistance. Instead it is only when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. In other words, only after you acknowledge that you need help and reach out, you will find that trainer or coach to guide you.
You are worth it!
Investing in yourself is not selfish, but self-care. So, in the same way, realising that you need help and reaching out to a trainer or coach is a strength and by investing in your self-development, you will avoid redefining the wheel which will help you to reach your goal faster and put you in a position where you can then help others better. And the most important reason of all, you are worth it!