Have you ever wanted someone to support you in realizing your dream as an aspiring professional in your field?
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A MENTOR IN YOUR LIFE?
Throughout the ages, mentoring— the passing on of survival and working skills from one person to another— has been the primary way that humans have learned how to navigate successfully the tricky terrain of staying alive and retaining cultural legacies into the next generations.
These days experienced educators, doctors, professors, corporate managers and executives, and others may be called on to provide mentoring to less experienced employees and students to help them hone their skills as professionals and as colleagues. Many mentors also invite their mentees into important networks for developing professional contacts leading to speaking, publishing, and/or teaching opportunities.
As coaches, we invest a great deal of ourselves in helping clients open their vision for their future, align their career and life planning with their values, find new opportunities on which to base new choices, and motivate them to go forward. Helping our clients keep the spark alive to make changes that matter in their lives is rewarding and sometimes demanding work.
Periodically, we coaches benefit from skilled mentors who remind us just what it is about coaching that we love to do!
My current coach mentor, Ian White, founder, Coaching Deconstructed, has an open, imaginative mind and always helps me find new, creative directions with my coaching. I have monthly sessions with him to keep my coaching skills sharp and effective.
During one session with Ian, I mentioned that I'd been feeling unclear about a new direction for my coaching that I felt drawn to. I felt I was moving into a deeper level as a coach, and I wasn't sure where I was going with it. Ian reminded me that I was in a time of a transition— one that was "transformational, like starting a blaze!" That image was so powerful to me that I realized, "Yes, this is why I coach. I'm keeping the spark alive! I help my clients reach for what is alive in themselves to make positive changes in their lives."
With this kind of support, I had renewed insight into mentoring a new coach client, Antonia, who planned to apply for credentialing with the International Coach Federation (ICF). She was an experienced coach, but lacked confidence in some of the coaching skills she needed to know to go for her credential. Fundamentally, what she wanted from mentor coaching with me was "to hone my coaching skills. Having been highly focused on making my business profitable for several years, I felt now was the right time to start focusing on becoming a better coach."
Antonia, like many coaches, had evolved a certain style of coaching that was useful to her clients, but also limited in its ability to help them focus on, broaden, and go deeper into new choices and change possibilities. When I modeled with her ways to use certain coaching skills more effectively— such as making an observation, then asking an open-ended question— in her coaching sessions, she was interested— and open to practicing these with her clients.
At the beginning, Antonia was concerned that she would not be able to incorporate these new changes into her coaching style. What helped her, she said, was the feedback I gave her that "highlighted where I am doing well (which I seldom acknowledge) and where to focus my energy to improve."
After a few months of mentoring, she was delighted to find that her coaching had become more streamlined and helped her clients go further in clarifying and achieving the career changes they really desired.
Skilled mentoring gives coaches new insights into the depth and power of their work with their clients to re-vision and re-create how to work and live fulfilled. For me, mentoring other coaches affirms my appreciation of the profession and process of coaching as an alive and authentic way of helping people create the career and life changes that most matter to them.