I often use these three terms in regards to what I do. It is important to understand the differences between them as you work to master Inquiry Method and Inquiry Management.
Teaching is telling others about a subject or information and encouraging them to explore and learn the information. I often teach when I want to help people see things that they have not been aware of or explore into subjects and material that is new, revolutionary or radical. We cannot be coached into areas we have not explored, teachers are necessary to help us into new territory. Teaching is a wonderful and useful skill that can be mastered and irreplaceable in certain circumstances.
Coaching is the capacity to set yourself aside and use inquiry to help people come to their own understanding of themselves or a situation. I consider coaching a higher principal than teaching because it requires a person to set aside their ego in order to be present to help and understand another person. True coaching requires a person to develop themselves to an altitude where they do not need to be the center of attention, but can offer attention to another person to stimulate their growth, depth, healing, and inspiration. Interestingly, a person’s ability to coach is exactly equal to their capacity to be coached.
Mentoring is the highest state of interacting with another person. This is the condition where we have achieved a high level of mastery in some area, we have nothing left to prove, we wish to share our wisdom and capacity, but we don’t need to. Mentoring combines teaching and coaching with something more: deep insight into others, deep compassion, and self-acceptance. Mentors transmit their ability on many levels: verbally, with how they are being, and in a more subtle way that is hard to define. The people who get the most out of mentors are not only highly capable learners, but they are also able to set their egos aside. There is a quality of devotion to one’s mentor that allows a special kind of transmission to occur. This is most apparent in people who have already achieved some ability in coaching and coach-ability.
Take some time to understand these different capacities in depth. At what level are you performing in different areas in your life? At work? With your spouse? With your children? Friends?
To what level do you aspire? How would you have to grow to master the level that interests you?