Coaching and mentoring are broadly recognized methods for passing on experience and knowledge. Young men who come to Forte Strong are in need of both knowledge and experience to help them navigate the adult world of work and responsibility, with the accompanying rewards and satisfaction. They need encouragement and help from someone who has walked the path before them.
There is a difference between coaching and mentoring that is significant, although coaching and mentoring are often used interchangeably.
Mentoring is usually long term and relationship based. An example of mentoring is the practice of apprenticeship. A skilled and experienced master craftsman takes on a young impressionable apprentice and teaches him the ins and outs of the craft. This mentor/apprentice relationship can go on for years as the apprentice gradually learns to master each aspect of the trade, under the guidance and encouragement of the master.
Coaching focuses more on improving performance to higher levels in the short term, which means coaches must emphasize the improvement of a specific skillset, with the aim of improving performance.
While Forte Strong encompasses aspects of both mentoring and coaching, the aim is to improve the life-skills of each student to the level of independence. Forte Strong coaches have mastered the skills of independent living, which makes it possible for them to model and teach life-skills. Coaches have also mastered the techniques of communicating and teaching those skills to those who are struggling to establish their identity and independence.
Each student is different; on one hand students arrive at Forte Strong, ready to learn and willing to make the effort to master independent living skills, while on the other hand others arrive unwilling to learn, hoping to continue down the path of least resistance. The work that a Forte Strong coach does depends on the needs of the student. Students who insist on wandering down the path of least resistance, are given the therapeutic space they need to learn important lessons about choices and consequences. When those students realize they need to stop wandering and start building living skills, then coaches can help them develop those skills.
Young men who have failed to take on the responsibilities of adulthood may look mature, but they haven’t matured internally. Young men in this situation are skilled at disguising their immaturity to avoid the difficult and oft-times emotionally painful task of acquiring the skills of the mature adult. As a result, they avoid performance where performance would expose them to their lack of skills. Coaching is about helping others improve performance; where a student refuses to perform or will not acknowledge a need to improve, a coach cannot be effective.
Counter-intuitively, the first task of a Forte Strong coach is not to teach students life-skills, it’s to help them realize and then to openly acknowledge that they need to learn those skills. Only after this realization will the student be motivated to work through the tough task of acquiring real life-skills. Then and only then can the coach effectively teach them the life-skills they need.
Regardless of the skill or experience level of the student, a Forte Strong life coach is there to coach him every step of the way… through the good and the bad; through the victories and the challenges. 6 to 9 months down the road, parents are over-joyed at the progress their son has made and excited to see him take the next big step toward adulthood outside the safe harbor of Forte Strong.