Mentoring sounds easy.

How much effort does it take to coach someone? You can pull off a phone conversation while mentally planning a menu (the person on the other line can’t see). Or you can put the coachee on speakerIt’s a myth that coaching is one of the “easy” professions while checking your messages. Is it really that taxing to listen, guide, mentor or coach someone?

The answer is “yes”!

It’s a myth that coaching is one of the “easy” professions, where you can sit in comfort and listen to someone pour out their heart while you do something else simultaneously.

That can’t be further from the truth. The truth is that it’s easy to be distracted from a mentoring conversation. You look out the window, and you notice some leaves that need to be raked. Or your friend shares something personal about their marriage, and you can find yourself contemplating issues in your own relationship.

In order to successfully mentor, you need to be 100 percent present—and the effort could actually be strenuous.

After seeing a number of Chassidim in a private audience, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the Rebbe Maharash, asked his assistant for a change of clothing. The assistant fetched some new clothing and was surprised to discover that what the Rebbe Maharash removed was drenched in sweat.

He wondered out loud what was causing the Rebbe to perspire so profusely. The Maharash explained: “When a Chassid comes to me for counsel, I need to go into their shoes in order to fully feel their current situation. I need to ‘put on’ the clothing of the Chassid to be really in touch with what is troubling them. Once I fully understand them, I need to ‘switch back’ into my own clothing and go back to my role as Rebbe, and carefully think how to counsel the Chassid. In just one hour, I can ‘switch clothing’ 50 times! It’s no wonder that after an hour I need to change!”1

While your child or student is speaking, it isIt’s your job to be there and listen fully your job to listen fully. What is driving him or her? What is at the root of their troubles? In order to relate to someone, you need to remove yourself completely and redirect your mind if it is wandering. You must be laser-focused on the other.

But then it’s time to “switch hats.” Once you have fully heard them out, it’s time to guide. To ask probing questions. To steer the person to clarity. To help the coachee become the best version of himself or herself. You are then the coach, with the responsibility to direct the conversation and to help them reach attainable goals.

To be so present is far from easy. It is a mental workout.

Self-Reflection: How do you view mentoring?