Signs your coach or mentor won’t change your life

Ever wonder how your coach or mentor would measure up during an audit? Here are 3 things to look at.

Sophia Sunwoo
3 min readJun 21, 2022


It’s not a done deal that when you find a coach or mentor who has more experience than you, that they’ll change your life or business.

Even if you’re a tech founder and Jack Dorsey handed you the opportunity to be mentored by him, it’s not guaranteed that he’ll catapult you to success —people often confuse one’s value of introductions to their network and contacts with good mentorship/coaching.

If a kick-ass coach or mentor isn’t a great teacher or doesn’t know how to shepherd you towards your best self, they’ll give you a lot of great information, but they won’t turn you into a higher version of yourself.

I recently talked to Nerdwallet about what bad business coaching looks like and it got me thinking about the red flags that signal a coaching or mentoring relationship that won’t take you to new heights.

Here are some of those red flags that came to mind —

They’re a yes woman

If your coach/mentor agrees with you and praises you all the time, they’re not giving you data points to help you think critically about where you’re going and how you’re doing it.

Find someone who rides the delicate line of challenging you without frustrating you. They should make you feel vulnerable and a little embarrassed sometimes.

Their feedback should shine a mirror on areas where you need to improve. Find someone who doesn’t “yes” you all the time, rather someone who instead says “yes, and…”.

Challenging behaviors and ways of thinking you’ve defaulted to over the years is what truly helps flex your mind and grow.

They hold back

Have you ever been offended by something your coach or mentor said to you? The best coach/mentor is someone who doesn’t have any fears around asking you the hard questions. They’re willing to offend you or come off as rude at the expense of your growth.

They don’t hold back and they care enough to show some tough love. On the flip side, they should be that one person in your life that you don’t hold back with and can have frank conversations with — sharing even the most unsavory parts of you that you don’t like sharing is what gives them the information they need to give honest wake up calls.

Hard questions crack us open and provoke us to admit the tough answers that are hard to hear. Saying the things we’re holding back from ourselves is where growth begins.

They don’t shake up your thought patterns

A good coach/mentor should think differently from you and shake up how you usually think about problems, solutions, and opportunities.

Where you see a problem, your mentor sees a partnership opportunity, where you see a goal they tell you to shoot higher.

They don’t need to have all the answers, but they should create new thinking paths for you and break you away from your normal patterns of thinking.

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Sophia Sunwoo

I create moneymaking brands with womxn entrepreneurs who refuse to settle for mediocre.