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Ian Calvert shares top tips to get the most out of your mentor

Ian Calvert recently spoke to the SAB Foundation about his top tips to get the most out of your mentor.
March 24, 2023

Often the words ‘mentor’ and ‘coach’ are used interchangeably, but there is a fundamental difference: being mentored is about learning from someone else’s journey and wisdom – being coached is about discovering your own. That’s why, at FURTHER, we focus on coaching the entrepreneurs in our programmes, primarily because our guiding principle is that the people closest to the problems should be the people closest to the solutions. The process is about enabling and empowering community-driven innovators to be the architects of their own solutions.Like with most things in life, you get out what you put in. So what are the best ways to get the most out of your coach?

1. Show up: on time, with intention, with presence; be clear on what you want to focus on, and avoid the discussion becoming a check in or status meeting.

2. Be 100% honest & open: the last few years have been the perfect storm for entrepreneurs, and anyone who says they haven’t been mentally or emotionally affected by it is lying. Don’t pretend you’re OK when you’re not, don’t hide any bad news or struggles you’re dealing with.

3. Focus on the questions, not the answers: A good coach will make sure you sit in the right questions for a while to make sure you’ve examined every dark corner of a problem. One of our guiding principles at FURTHER is: ‘Stay married to the problem, not the solution’.

4. Be prepared to be challenged: meaningful growth only happens outside of our comfort zones; don’t come to the session trying to persuade your coach to validate your pre-determined point of view.

5. Keep the ideas alive: the best coaching sessions provide an insight or an idea that can become a ‘north star’ for the entrepreneur to follow before the next session. Whether you use a journal or some other mnemonic device, find a way to keep the idea front and centre in your daily routines. One of my coachees was struggling to focus and prioritise the important aspects of her business, so after one session I got her to write the words ‘FOCUS’ and ‘PRIORITISE’ on her knuckles in marker pen. They were still there when she showed up to our next session, along with a clarity of thought and energy that hadn’t been there before.

This was originally published for SAB Foundation on Twitter.