The Great Pumpkin Will Come“, shouts Linus as he writes a letter every year to the Great Pumpkin to visit him in the pumpkin patch.  Charlie Brown is in disbelief and says it is a waste of time.  Peppermint Patty is convinced the Great Pumpkin is a fake.  And Snoopy is laughing. Love watching this TV special every October.  Will the Great Pumpkin come and bring Linus wisdom?  Should we all keep waiting?

Thomas Friedman wrote an article in the NY Times last week, entitled,  “It Takes A Mentor”.  He shared how successful students had teachers who were mentors, and took a personal interest in their aspirations.  The students received coaching and guidance, to navigate the path between training and career goals.

There is a distinct Difference between a Mentor and Coach…here is what I learned:

Mentoring is relationship oriented and provides a safe environment where the mentoree shares issues that affect personal and professional success.  Mentoring is development driven, therefore long term, and requires time for both partners to learn from each other.  The immediate manager is not involved in the mentoring relationship, as it built on trust and confidentiality.

Coaching is task oriented. The focus is on concrete issues such as managing more effectively, speaking more articulately, and thinking strategically.  Coaching is short term and session driven.  The purpose of coaching is to improve performance and enhance clearly defined skills. Accessing competency determines time needed to implement results. The coachee’s immediate manager is a critical partner in coaching, provides feedback and guidance.

The search for wisdom may be lumpy

The search for wisdom may be lumpy

When do mentors disappoint mentees?  Many times the chemistry of the relationship does not work, the mentee does not feel comfortable to share, and  there are unrealistic expectations.

A very ambitious young woman I know has never found mentoring to be successful when teams are selected by HR. Mentors were nice enough, but they never established a personal relationship.  This woman has always searched out  individuals in her company who she looked up to and who she thought she could learn from.  Often it is (not her direct boss) these individuals who have promoted and educated her.  Currently she has mentors one level above her, who she finds trustworthy and whose opinion she values.  She also has a coach that she can go to with more detailed questions.  She is on the high potential list.

I admired the career of a friend who had a very successful position in a large tech firm.  She recalled their mentor program, viewed it less as a vehicle to get career advice, and more to be an advocate for herself, to obtain assistance in navigating a large corporate setting.  She became a top level manager with high visibility.

The President of The Boston Club shared her career story this week.  When asked who were her mentors, she could not name one in any of the companies she worked for.  She highlighted a woman that was a friend in another field that provided her wisdom and guidance.

Who were my mentors?  They were people in business, not in college.  I remember my advisor at Ripon College my first year, told me he did not think I belonged there, and I should go to a state school.  I was enraged, never told my parents. I proved him wrong!

I searched out my mentors, my coaches, and learned  from many voices.  One thing I know to be true, it takes multiple people. If you look to your immediate boss for all you need, you will always be disappointed.

It takes many little pumpkins for wisdom.

It takes many little pumpkins for wisdom.

Today I am always searching for people from many fields that I can learn from, and who inspire me with their wisdom. I’m not waiting for the Great Pumpkin!

ARE  YOU waiting in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin?  Or are you getting what you need from the entire pumpkin patch?