So in case you didn’t know…
I freaking LOVE doing wilderness skills.
It’s fun, it keeps me connected to the simple things in life, and it’s taught me how to more fully access my inner and outer resources in times of need.
- I’ve taken remote survival vacations in debris shelters made by my own hands and only a bow-drill for fire.
- I’ve used bird language to track a family of mountain lions through the rainforests of western Washington state.
- I’ve even used my knowledge of traditional healing & plant wisdom to completely transform my health at a time when my digestive tract couldn’t handle food without projectile vomiting.
But the real truth is I could never have done any of these things if it weren’t for having good mentors to guide me.
So today I want to tell you about a mentoring relationship that truly changed my life.
Hidden inside this story are some important lessons to take about how nature-based mentoring works.
Read on and discover many key elements of the nature mentoring toolkit like storytelling, art of questioning and quality time.
Here’s the story of how I met my mentor…
The Landlord Who Changed My Life
A few years back…
I was probably the most excited college-aged kid in the world. I had just finished a painful, drudging year to save up money as a brick layer and porter at a local airport hotel.
I’m not even going to complain about the 4am mornings and long hours outside in all weather conditions…
…because I was finally going to fulfill my dreams of attending a very special wilderness school near Seattle Washington.
This is where the exciting part begins.
It was at this Wilderness school when I met a man who became a very important mentor to me on my journey as a naturalist.
His name was Mike.
He was an instructor at the school and he was also my landlord because I lived in the campus apartment.
This was awesome because it created LOTS of opportunities for me to spend quality time and connect 1-on-1 with someone much more experienced in tracking, bird language and survival.
It was the perfect opportunity!
This person had all the skills I desperately wanted to acquire and he was 100% willing to share them.
But the thing about my relationship with Mike wasn’t just that he had some cool skills. There was something else that was much more important about our time together.
I’m talking about…
The Art of Transformative Conversation
Here’s what I mean by that…
I quickly noticed that Mike had a gift for the art of conversational mentoring.
In fact, most of the time we spent together didn’t even happen outside. It happened within the context of an ongoing conversation about nature.
Now you might be wondering…
How does having a simple conversation about nature translate into nature-based mentoring?
Very simply… The mentoring started when we would talk about different things I encountered during my time out in the woods.
I would tell him about:
- Patterns I was noticing in the forest
- Changes I was noticing in the seasons
- Interesting bird behaviours
- Different tracks and sign I found
- Animal encounters
We would even talk about books I was reading and insights I gained through my journaling exercises.
And here’s the really profound thing.
Mike would listen deeply to my stories… and then engage me in a conversation to take the lessons deeper.
He would ask me a series of awareness questions and share his own related experiences.
To anyone outside listener it probably sounded like two people having an excited conversation about nature… Yet below the surface there were some very profound things happening.
Here’s what I noticed…
Mike had a very genuine curiosity and desire to share his passion for nature observation & tracking with me.
But he didn’t just give me all the answers…
Instead when I hit challenges… He would share his own stories and ask questions to clarify my experiences.
He would sometimes share pieces of an answer that drove me to look closer and investigate in order to find out what I was missing.
And because it all happened in a dialogue… I became extremely engaged in thinking new ideas about nature.
The end result?
My mentor really taught me how to think critically about nature.
And all along the way he was planting seeds for my next adventures and experiences on the land.
I noticed that every conversation I had with Mike led to dramatic changes in my ability to interpret what I would see, hear & observe out on the land.
How Can One Simple Conversation Be So Powerful?
Here’s the profound thing…
Talking and sharing stories with Mike made me reflect and get new perspectives on my experiences.
Key Principle: Conversations are powerful and have the potential to completely re-orient a person’s focus.
I know because that’s exactly what happened to me.
…with the right practice and mentoring my naturalist mind gradually opened into a deep understanding of how nature works and how I personally fit into the big web of life.
This is the real power of nature-based mentoring, and it’s why I LOVE mentoring people in the ancient ways of nature.
So there you go!
I hope this story has inspired you to reflect on your own relationship to the practice of wilderness skills & nature-based mentoring.
If you are currently looking for an authentically trained nature-based mentor then I would love to connect with you.
I’m here to help you reach your next level with tracking, bird language, nature observation or mentoring & leadership skills.
You don’t have to cross the continent and uproot your entire life in order to find what you’re looking for.
Just go check out my mentoring services page where you can apply to get a free discovery session. All you need is a phone or Skype.
Thanks so much for reading 🙂