The Ordinary and Amazing Alder Tree

by | Alder Tree Coaching

Rebranding to Alder Tree Coaching was a fun process. When looking for a new business name after more than 6 years in business, I came across fine words like “impact,” “dynamic,” or “strategic.” But even though my work has a powerful impact for my clients, these types of words seemed too corporate and a bit cold.

I thought more about my professional approach, that of helping people access motivations and resources which are powerful accelerators in accomplishing important goals. My coaching is planned and systematic, yet flexible and emergent, allowing for the power of unexpected possibilities. This approach is both organized and organic, and it produces both internal transformation and external results. In addition to reaching their specific goals, my clients tell me that the process brings clarity and confidence.

How could a business name possibly express all of this? I tried to come at this task from different directions, but felt stuck. I simply couldn’t find anything that expressed the powerful and natural process of coaching along with the results that people tell me are so tangible and life-changing.

Finally, on a whim, I looked up my own given name for potential inspiration. My first name is Nelda, or Nel for short. I was named after my wonderful Mom, who was born in Holland. She was named Neeltje, after her maternal grandmother. (I have a wonderful photo of my mom as a child with a great big 1940’s bow in her hair. So fun!) When she and her family moved to Canada when she was 13, they anglicised her name to Nellie. Years later, when I came along (the fourth of five kids) I was named Nelda, after her. It wasn’t until decades later that it really sunk in that I had the honour of being named after my Mom ~ the easy-going, quiet and cheerful person who devoted her entire career to our family.

Nel Slater Hugging Her Mom

So here I was, revisiting my name, as a possible clue in my pursuit for a great business name. Would my name shed some light on whom I have become or what role I play in this world? If I could be as steady and faithful as my Mom has been, that would be certainly be enough. Yet, perhaps there might be even more nuances to discover…

Maybe you have heard that a name can impact our life trajectories, and it can serve as a kind of guidepost, sometimes without us knowing it. Well, I did indeed find some interesting meanings of my name, and yes, they did reflect something about me. One meaning is “champion” and I do love to champion the goals of others.

Another meaning is “Lives by the Alder Tree.” This second meaning intrigued me! I love trees! What a wonderful image! I soon discovered that the Alder Tree is a very common deciduous tree, part of the birch family, with hanging catkins and little pinecones that remain on the tree through the winter. Alder trees are often found near streams and wetlands and are considered “pioneer species,” meaning that they establish and enrich the ground for other trees to grow. Incredible.

I became excited about the Alder Tree as an image for my expanding coaching practice and as a representation of who I am. For as long as I can remember, hiking in the woods has been a favourite pastime. I recall picking buttercups in the marshy roadside when I was about 8 years old, as we lived in the country. I have always loved trees and all things rustic and woodsy. My current residence overlooks a bit of green space, and to this day, flowers and trees are among my very favourite things. 

So much about the Alder Tree appeals to me: the seasons of weather that reflect the seasons of life, the strength of a tree and it’s ability to flex in the wind, while remaining rooted in the soil. I also love the pioneering quality of the Alder; I love to “pioneer” new projects and lay the groundwork for others to continue. I also believe that our lives (when well-lived) serve to add to the soil for others to grow after we have gone. And who cannot miss the value of growth itself?! We are always changing and developing. Coaching can accelerate that growth, like good fertilizer in the soil. Oh yes, and guess what else?? Alder Trees were used as pile foundations for the bridges of Amsterdam, another connection to my Dutch heritage.

Thus became “Alder Tree Coaching,” an image of strength and flexibility, growth and seasons, structure and irregularity, all in the “organized chaos” of nature.

Funny, now that I think about it, I must have seen Alder Trees on many walks before, but hadn’t taken notice. I am reminded that each of us is just an ordinary human, but like an alder tree, our existence and growth can greatly enrich the lives of many others.

I believe that people, like trees, are to be appreciated for their uniqueness and nurtured for growth … all with a trust that each of us was planted in our time to be a positive influence in the world around us.


Nel Slater

Nel Slater

Founder, Coach

I am on a mission to help people come alive, accomplish their goals and make an impact. I believe that every person can make a difference in big and small ways, and it’s my life’s work to help YOU create a ripple effect in the world around you.