Donna Doyon Gilbert

If you're like me, you're always learning something new or revisiting a topic for additional insight or ways to apply knowledge.

It may be how to get more done in less time, how to shut down the inner voices that are telling me that I can't or I shouldn't try something. 

I recently bought a new software platform for designing my website. I was watching a video the other night while Earl was watching Game of Thrones replays. At one point I gasped and said, "How freaking cool!"

I am giddy with excitement and have been binge watching videos, reading instructions, and figuring things out. 

I am certain to make a mess of my website as I am learning this new software. Making a mess of things can be part of the fun!

Anyway... since I am high on learning new things these days (and transitioning from my current way of doing things to a new way of doing things) -- teaching this old dog new tricks, I started thinking about the support we can get while learning something new or developing our skills.

In this episode I share my thoughts on guides, coaches, and mentors. 

Read the Transcript

Note: This is a computer-generated transcript. That means it's pretty good, but not perfect. If you read something weird or confusing, first laugh, then use the time stamp to hop into the podcast to find out what I REALLY said. 🙂


Welcome to another episode of Finding My Way, a podcast dedicated to sharing the scattered thoughts and muddled musings of this 50 something year old woman. Each week I'll share my experiences, challenges, doubts, and fears, as well as the lessons I've learned that keep me moving forward toward my dreams. And yes, this is the podcast that was formerly known as Reflections of a Recovering Ugly Duckling. This is Episode 124 and I'm your host, Donna Doyon.


If you are like me, you are always learning something new or revisiting a topic for additional insight or ways to apply that knowledge. I may be interested in learning how to get more done in less time, or how to shut down the inner voices that are telling me that I can't or I shouldn't try something new. I recently bought a new platform for designing my website. The other night, Earl was watching a Game of Thrones replay too violent for me. I find myself watching every once in a while and then throwing my arm up dramatically in front of my eyes and saying, no, I don't want to watch this. But anyway, I was watching a video on this new platform that I have and at one point I gasped and I said, oh my gosh, that is so freaking cool. And yes, I did use the word freaking. I'm not much for swearing. I am giddy with excitement about the possibilities around this technology tool. It will be a learning process, a do it yourself learning process.


So I'll be watching videos.


Reading instructions, trying it out, figuring things out and having a blast with this. I know my nerd is just coming through. I can't help it. I love this stuff. As frustrating as it can be for me at times. Oh, it just gets my heart singing when I figure things out. So for the time being, if you do hop over to my website,, please be kind. Remember that I am all do it yourselfsell when it comes to this podcast and this entire whatever venture which includes my website, as I'm making changes to it, it's probably going to end up breaking. I'm sure there will be links that don't work. The design that just looks like maybe a five year old did it. But that's okay. I'm going to have so much fun with it, and in the end, hopefully it won't look too bad. That is one of the very liberating things about having this whatever venture. I don't have to get quite so caught up in making sure that everything looks professional. So I encourage you. I invite you. I challenge you. If you are working on something that's a creation of your heart, don't get caught up in the perfectionism, making sure that it looks beautiful all the time.


Just have fun. Play with it. Be that example and that role model for other people who may want to do something similar, but they just aren't there yet. Let's just have some fun with things. Life is way too short anyway. Since I am on this high about learning new things, I'm transitioning from my current way of doing things to a new way of doing things. Yes, we're teaching this old dog some new tricks. I started thinking about the support we can get while we are learning something new or developing or transitioning our skills. In fact, in a week or so at my part time job, I'll be training a new employee in the bakery. So my frame of mind has to be different for each role that I'm playing. And so I thought I'd talk about this today. I thought I'd talk about what I see as three different types of teachers. And for the purpose of this episode and kind of my way of looking at things in life is I'm going to label them a guide, a coach and a mentor. So a guide to me, a guide is someone who is right there with you.


They're the trainer. The first line of taking someone from absolute newbie to someone who can be somewhat competent, maybe not an expert, but competent enough to do the job safely, somewhat efficiently and effectively. When you first work with a guide, a guide is going to be doing a lot of the work for you. They're going to be showing you, teaching you what they're doing, why they're doing it, maybe a little bit about the history of it. When I think of a guide, I think of a sightseeing guide or an outdoor guide, like for fishing, hiking or hunting. These people know what needs to be done, how to do it safely, efficiently and effectively. It's kind of like they're driving the car and you're just along for the ride. You're watching, you're learning. You may be saying, that's something I really would like to do. And so you pay a little bit closer attention, but the amount that they're going to teach you is probably limited to what they know. The next level is a coach. I think of a coach as someone who is kind of an objective observer, watching from the outside. They have a lot of knowledge.


They continue to learn so that they continue to help you. They see the big picture, and they're all about strategy. Think about sports and business and life coaches. They see what you need to develop, and they help you find the resources that will help you. If we're in that car again, I see a coach as someone who's sitting in the passenger seat, you're doing the driving, but they're there watching, monitoring, making sure you're going in the correct direction, making sure you're not going too fast so that you'll get a speeding ticket, that you're not trying to turn the wrong way up a one way street. They've got your back and they're helping you to develop your skills, your awareness of what's going on. And then the third type of teacher is a mentor. I see a mentor as someone who's on her own journey, she's learned a lot. She's willing to share her stories so that you can learn from them. She's the type of person that says when you come to her with a question, she says, hey, walk with me. And then as she's continuing on her path, she's sharing with you how she got there, what she's learned and listening to where you are, and sharing her experiences to help you advance further up your path.


With a mentor, they are on their own journey, and they're not going to let you derail their process. They don't stop and cater to the mentee. A mentor realizes that the journeys are separate. So if we're back in our cars, I see a mentor as not even being in the same car as the person that they're teaching. They're in two different cars. The mentor may be the car in front. The mentor may be waving from the car beside you. You're traveling in the same direction, on the same road, but at some point, you won't be, and you will both be prepared to go your own separate direction because you're not actually riding together. Of the three roles, my preferred role is that of mentor, although I did have an experience within the Toastmasters Organization. Toastmasters, if you're not familiar with it, it's an international organization that helps people develop their public speaking and their leadership skills. I was a member for almost 20 years and earned the highest level of achievement that they offer in this program, which is distinguished Toastmaster, one of the things that they emphasized and that was valuable within their program was their mentorship program.


When you first joined the organization, you are, if you want, assigned a mentor. And the mentors role is to help you complete the first three speeches in the program to encourage you to sign up for the various meeting roles. And it's very mentor driven. So a new member is given that guide. And I have always thought that what Toastmasters calls a mentor is actually a guide, someone to teach them the ropes within the organization, to get them involved, to be their friend, and to help them figure things out. Over the years, I served as what the Toastmasters Organization calls a mentor, and I call a guide many times over and over. And I felt a certain level of frustration in that role because the mentee, the person that I was mentoring or guiding, wasn't always receptive. They were dealing with their own inner voices and their life challenges and weren't totally committed to the program. So I would spend extra time and energy trying to get them involved, trying to help them succeed within the program. And I had more buy in to their results than they did. I found it difficult to disengage from their results.


And when someone would drop out after just a speech or two, I would feel that level of frustration and wonder, was it something that I did? But no part of you knows that. It's just life gets in the way or their own fears or doubts and uncertainties hold them back and they weren't quite ready to move beyond those yet. They are on their own journey. And it was about ten years ago that two people who joined my club at around the same time they asked me if I would be their mentor and I told them both the same thing. I would not be their mentor in the traditional Toastmasters sense. I was not going to be doing the driving for them. What I did tell them was that any questions they had, if they wanted me to review a speech, if they needed some extra help or guidance on some of the various meeting roles, or had questions about the organization and the educational programs to reach out to me and I would answer their questions, I would make myself available to them. They just needed to take the lead. So these two members will call them Scott and Lisa, not their real names.


So over the next couple of years Scott reached out to me frequently. His 1st 5610 20 speeches he would contact me before every speech. He would let me read what he'd written. I read through them, gave him feedback on what I thought he could make stronger. As he was giving his presentations. He always came to a meeting and he said this is what I want you to look for. And so with every speech that he gave I was able to give him specific feedback. What happened with Lisa was that she didn't contact me before she gave a speech. She'd attend a meeting and she would give her presentation and I would sit there just enjoying her speech. After the meeting she would come up to me and she'd say, can you give me some feedback? And I would be like it was good. And I would remind her, let me know before you give a speech that you want me to look for something specific because I'd be happy to do that for you, but otherwise I'm not going to be working during your speech. I would rather sit there and just relax and enjoy it.


If I don't know what information you're looking for, what feedback you're looking for, I may be spending my time and energy coming up with feedback that you really don't need. So she would always promise that, oh yes, I'll remember that next time. I'll remember that next time. So Lisa was getting very general generic feedback. I wasn't aware of her process for picking her topics, for deciding which approach to take on a topic. There are so many facets to putting together a solid presentation, but I didn't have any of that insight and so the best I could typically do was it was good or it didn't really interest me. So it was a couple of years later that Lisa and I were talking, we got to be good friends. She was doing a fantastic job with her speeches, with developing her leadership skills, and she questioned me. She said, you know, I'm curious. You told me that you wouldn't mentor me, but yet you are mentoring Scott. And I remember telling her, I didn't tell you no, Lisa, I told you that I wouldn't mentor you in the standard Toastmasters way, which means me being the one reaching out to you.


But don't you remember that I told you if you had any questions or if you wanted me to look for anything particular in your speeches, that I would do that I would be happy to do that. I would be happy to meet with you to talk about your speeches and your progress. She kind of sheepishly nodded her head and said, yeah, I kind of remember something like that. And I said, Lisa, it's not up to me to chase you down to find out what you want to accomplish, but I am here for you. I have been here for you, but I don't have the time, the energy, or the desire to chase down you to find out what your dreams are. If you want to share them with me, I will do what I can to help you achieve them. And she just kind of looked at me and she said, oh, wow, I guess that's really a lesson that I need to learn, isn't it? And I laughed. I remember laughing and I just said something like, yeah, consider that a top lesson. If you're going to ask someone for help and they agree, don't expect them to do the work for you.


It's up to you to follow up and keep asking questions. Your mentor won't know what you need help with unless you communicate your questions and your needs to them. And as I usually do before I do a podcast episode, I went to my Tarot Deck for a bit of guidance on this episode. So I pulled a card from my new Tarot deck, which is Witches Tarot by Ellen Duggan. I pulled the Queen of cup. Now this is a summary of what this card means. A loyal wife, mother and best friend, Loves all with equal intensity. A reminder that all talents are affected by your emotions denotes a gifted psychic and strong intuitive and magical talents. The message of the Queen of Cups is reflection. Calm your emotions and be loving and gentle, just like a mentor. And one thing that stood out for me was loves all with equal intensity. Scott and Lisa in Toastmasters. I loved both of them. I wanted both of them to succeed. But I also recognized that it wasn't my job to determine their path. They needed to do that.


Share that with me.


And then I could provide them the help and the wisdom. That strong intuition that the card speaks about to assist them in their development. Now, because the witch's tarot is a brand new deck to me, I also went to my other tarot decks. Guidebook Your Tarot Your Way by Barbara Moore, and this is what she has to say about the Queen of Cups. Now, the cups. This card itself is the element of water, and it's related to emotions, relationships, creativity, imagination, family, and friends. Sounds like that mentor mentee relationship, doesn't it? Pretty cool, and it's also passive and somewhat receptive. Now, the Queen card also sounds like a mentor is a nurturer, helpful, wisdom, experience, power, deeply hidden influence, intimate connections, and interested in individuals. So this is what Barbara Moore says about the Queen of Cups. She thrives on deep personal relationships. She's usually emotionally involved or invested in her friends in a healthy way. She feels, senses or intuits a lot, and almost always her conclusions can be trusted. Doesn't that sound like a mentor? Someone you really want to rely on? You can trust their judgment. You know that they've been there, they've done things.


They have just that experience and that knowledge to help you with whatever you're trying to figure out. So then she continues, her guidance can be invaluable. She's generally supportive and helpful, and if she has the funds or access to funds loves to play the role of patroness for me. I related that to time and energy to help people. I didn't want to spend my time and energy chasing someone down, but if someone reached out to me and said, could you help? I was more than willing to support them and be a patron of their cause. I loved that the Queen of Cups was my support card for this episode. The takeaway from today's episode is to help you determine whether you need a guide, a coach or a mentor. You can figure this out by thinking about what it is you want to accomplish. Think about what you already know and think about the level of guidance you need to reach that goal. To start. If you're just starting, you may need a guide in the workplace. This might be a trainer. This is someone who knows the job or does the job. You may start off watching and learning, and then you start to perform the tasks on your own.


You may have some oversight to begin with and your skills will develop under the guidance of this guide. Your transition is going to be from dependent on your guide or your trainer to being independent. And just to be clear, guides can take the form of people in person, or it can be books, workshops or other types of formal or informal training. If you already have some basic skills, you may just need someone who can watch your style and see what your current results are. And a coach can help you to become more effective and efficient in a way that will suit your needs. And if one method doesn't work for you, the coach will help provide alternatives that might work. So when you're working with a coach, you can expect the transition to be from your current level to a higher level. And if you're not quite sure where you want to go or what you want to accomplish, but you see someone who is living or working in a way that you want to live or work, a mentor will provide you with stories of lessons learned, those obstacles that they had to overcome, and their visions for the future.


You can learn how they did things and how they are doing things. A mentor is great when you want to travel a similar path, not the same path. And I think the transition with a mentor is when you stop looking at them and saying, Why you? And you start questioning, Why not me? As I mentioned earlier in the program, of the three teacher styles guide, coach or mentor, I prefer being the mentor. I love sharing my stories, my experiences with the hopes that my stories will inspire, encourage and invite you to start really appreciating and recognizing the value of your own stories and your own journey. You have an amazing path to travel, but I'll be honest, I am selfish enough that I don't want your journey to interrupt or interfere or derail me while I'm on my journey. And that's why I love the role of mentor. If you have a goal or a dream and you're not quite making the progress that you want, and I do hope you have a goal or a dream because otherwise life is very boring.


It'S up to you to decide what type of support you need to achieve your goals. If one of your goals is to improve your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. I'm currently accepting new members into my Walk With Me program. Walk With Me is a program I created almost a year ago. The mission was to support and encourage people to start a daily walking program for the many physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of the activity. But over the past year, it's transitioned into a program that teaches self coaching practices so that members can discover, remember or reconnect with their dreams. Each week, I share an audio lesson with some bit of wisdom that I've picked up along my own path of discovery and adventure. I am here and ready to serve as your mentor. All you need to do is take that first step and become a member. And even if you're not currently an active Walker, Walk With Me will help you get started. And if you are already walking consistently, Walk With Me will take your walking activities to a transformative level. My goal for Walk With Me is to build strong, positive energy in our walkers so that we can brighten the world with our light and our love.


If you're interested in becoming a light Walker, you can learn Walk and don't forget as I said earlier in this episode, my site is under construction. Do it yourself yourself all the way so you may just find a page that has a place for you to put in your email address. And if you do fill out that form I will email you and let you know what walk with me is all about. I think it's a really great program. I love creating the weekly lessons for my members. It's all about energy so if you don't connect with my energy if the sound of my voice grates on you like pebbles in your shoe when you're out walking this probably isn't a good option for you but if you feel like your energy and my energy is in sync if it feels like you're slipping on a pair of comfortable shoes then I invite you come on walk with me.


Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of finding my way. If you like what you just heard I hope you'll stop by my web address that's D-O-N-N-A-D-O-Y-O-N for a visit. Feel free to bring along your friends and colleagues. You can listen to past episodes from the podcast tab. The music for this podcast is called Drifting Upstream by Hyson.

Show Notes:

Here's the tarot card I drew. Queen of Cups from the Witches Tarot deck by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans.

Donna Doyon - Queen of Cups - Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

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