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Advisor versus Mentor

Dear MentorDoctor,

In your opinion, what is the difference between an adviser and a mentor?

Bill J.

Dear Bill J.,

What a great question-and one that is often the cause of confusion!

Many can advise; but few can mentor. That's because an adviser is one who directs. A mentor, on the other hand, guides. So, an adviser will direct you without regard to your specific personal situation, needs, or passions. A mentor will allow you--and even encourage you--to choose your own direction, offering guidance that does take into consideration your personal situation, needs, and passions. A mentor is often more analogous to a coach: True mentors know what motivates their mentees. An adviser is more like a director: Advisers may or may not know what motivates their advisees. This information is not relevant to this type of relationship, because the adviser simply provides the direction that the advisee "should" follow.

I hope this helps.



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