how to choose a mentor or coach


Some of the most important decisions you’ll ever make is in choosing your mentors.

Whether it's a paid teacher or a generous elder, their way of being in the world will influence yours, so choose carefully.

Regardless of how successful they may appear, be wary of the mentors who steer you away from your own understanding of how to be in right relationship with the world.

When you are considering learning from a specific mentor, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they exemplify the values you hold?
  • Do they approach life in a fundamentally relational way? Or in a transactional way? Or in an extractive way?

If you are a relational being, you’ll be miserable with a coach who has an extractive approach to life. Worse than that, you’ll likely be unsuccessful in the area you're being coached in because the approaches that are recommended will fundamentally offend you. When that happens, it’s hard to make any progress, and if your mentor doesn’t know another way to work, they won’t have other suggestions for you.

Unfortunately, you'll probably be blamed and hear something like “You didn’t take action! You didn’t have the right mindset! Why couldn’t you be like X over there. Look how successful she was!” I’ve seen a lot of people hire expensive mentors and coaches but wind up disappointed.

To prevent that kind of disappointment, do this before choosing a mentor or coach:

1. Step back and look at this human being offering the program. It's not enough to be nice and warm. That could just be their learned sales approach. Feel carefully into how you feel in response to their marketing.

    • How much room do you have to say yes or no to them?
    • Are they amplifying your anxiety and fear of missing out? Or are they inviting you into something delicious?
    • Are they affirming your right to say no to their offer? Or are they sending subtle shame messages if you do?
    • Is everything offered on an urgent deadline? Or do you let know there will be another chance to opt in?

2. Listen to what they don’t say, too. Notice, did they tell you:

    • Who their work is NOT appropriate for?
    • How many hours a week they are expecting you to put in to get where they promise?
    • The downside or grit in the path they offer, or was their message all bright, shiny and fabulous?
    • What percent of people in the program do not get the intended return?

3. Once you've begun working with your mentor, watch how they handle conflict or challenge.

    • How do they listen?
    • Do they have any humility?
    • Do they crush opposition?

The mentors you choose will have a profound impact on you. Find the best you can. Then choose the ones who model a way of being in the world that you aspire to.