Mentoring, Coaching and finding the right path

Lost in the forest with no sign of a path, reassuring a child who is exhausted, and I’m having flashbacks of cancer trials – yes, we are returning to the Forest after our little diversion for the Olympics, and I’m still completely lost. This situation called for a leap of faith. If you’ve been following along our resilience series, you’ve seen that in a crisis situation, I called on my tools of empowerment to remain present in the situation: using my fight response, future pacing, following my internal GPS, and giving away the load . . . except that I was still lost, despite all this, and the sun was beginning to spread into a big red sky. In less than an hour, we’d be lost in the darkness.

It was time for that ultimate tool of empowerment: The Mentor/Coach.

Mentoring and coaching have played a huge role in my life. During my battle with cancer, I had the guidance of my health care professionals to show the way forward. And afterwards, as I re-examined my life, I had the support from my NLP community in targeting what was working, and what needed to be changed.

Here in the forest, my nephew and I had slim pickings for mentors or coaches. But having asked the universe for help, ‘help’ most certainly did arrive; it arrived in the form of a bushy tail and dark beady eyes. Wandering along a cliff edge, I spotted a squirrel. At this point we’d only spotted birds (and one giant snake!). A squirrel felt promising. When it began to run away, I called to my nephew and we began to chase it. After a few false turns and more cliff edges, it finally led us down into a grassy field – and lo and behold: there was a path!

Not everyone receives guidance from a squirrel, but here are a few tips so you can find the right coach or mentor for your needs.

– Take that risk. It’s an intimidating prospect to ask for help, or even just to send an email inquiry. But if you never take a chance on the idea, then you’ll never have explored an avenue of possible change.

– Listen to people. We can all look for coaching in various directories, but for mentors it isn’t always obvious how to connect. Lucky for you, with Sister Leadership and our connection to amazing programs like the Women’s Executive Network, there are assisted paths you can follow when searching for a coach or mentor. However, if you’d like to do this on your own, then put your friendly face on and get ready to converse and listen your way into a mentor/mentee relationship. No one enjoys to have problems dumped on them by other people (it’s not the mentor’s role to provide counselling.) When you approach a person you’d like as a mentor, remember that you want to learn from their story. So ask them about themselves before you spill your life’s history.

-Match your styles. When looking for a coach or mentor, find someone who makes you feel comfortable. If they are too mellow or too intense for you, then that’s not a relationship which is going to work. However, if you find yourself enjoying their company as you meet for an initial session or mentor tea – that’s a great sign you’ll be open to the experiences they can offer.

Have you ever found guidance when it was most needed? What role did your mentor or coach take in your life?

Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. She aspires to  help women explode their success. For more posts and experiences, join Camille at her Sister Leadership page, connect on Twitter, and follow on Facebook. Welcome to the Sister Leadership community!


  1. Anne Miner 9 years ago

    What is a mentor? Someone or something which provides knowledge, wisdom and encouragement.

    I was mentored by one of my employees when he told me that my “biggest problem” was that I would not allow myself to make mistakes. While I encouraged everyone else to make mistakes and learn from them, I was not willing to allow myself to make mistakes and thus was not learning anything new.

    He imparted knowledge and wisdom and yes, encouragement too – or at least inspiration to make some changes!

    • sisterleadership 9 years ago

      Very true, Anne. Mentors can be anyone and everyone. What a great example you give of learning from another’s observation and experience. Thanks for sharing!

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