Coaching is a fantastic way of developing ourselves and others, and for what purpose? To make a better world for everyone. And as coaches, we may forget about ourselves; we need to nourish ourselves and our own development to be the best we can, to show up for our clients. Unless we are at our best, we will not be able to help our clients be their best. We are a role model and we have a leader role.
Coaching is about skill, presence, commitment and letting go…. And this made us think about surfing.
Imagine for a moment you want to be a surfer, you have seen pictures of Hawaiian beaches and you want to experience the thrill of riding the water, the roar of the surf drowning out your inner voices, the smell of the sea and the spray all around you, the feeling of freedom standing on water and all the rewards back on the beach resting triumphant, with sun on your back, the sea before you, a cold drink beside you and your friends around you…
Surfing is a skill. You learn it to be able to get into the game at all. Once in, you let it go and release in the moment, going with the flow of the sea. A surfer rides the sea and knows the sea will hold them up. They do not try to grab hold of the surf board and hold it by force above the waves to stop it sinking. It floats fine by itself if left alone. Their legs and body respond to what is happening and make the adjustments to keep moving – if they have learned the skills. They keep moving, or sink. And surfers do not expect to go out and start surfing without learning some skills to start.
Coaching is a lot like surfing. We learn the skill, but then we need to be in the moment, connecting with the client. Sometimes as coaches we try to do things by the book, apply the models we know, despite what the client tells us, and follow our own agenda. Then we are like the surfer who is trying to surf by holding onto the surfboard to keep it up, and steering it with their hands to make it go where they want to go – very tiring and completely unnecessary.
And surfing is not something you do alone, you can’t surf without the water. Surfing is a partnership with the sea. You and the sea create the surfing together, the sea supports you and tells you what to do next. The same with coaching, it is a partnership and the process and relationship supports you carrying you and the client forward as you ride the waves of the relationship and not of trying to steer the client.
On the other hand if you go out onto the waves without some knowledge and skill, expecting the water to support you whatever you do, then you will take a tumble. Trust the process, and you are part of the process, and you need to know what you are doing in the process so you can trust yourself. The coaching skill you have is in the service of the client in the session in the moment. You learn and acquire skill precisely so that you can forget about it when you are with the client. It is like a musician who practices hard before the concert so that he or she can forget about the technique so as to express the vision of the music let it sing.
So what about these letters? On one level, we will talk about the learning and skills you want and need to ride the waves of coaching with grace and ease. We have many tools and tips, as well as courses and webinars. We want this letter to have practical use for you, that you will be inspired to, as that is what coaching is all about.
And there is another level – as we know in coaching, it is not so much the situation that is the problem for the client, (although they think it is), but the way they think about it. So we also want to talk about how we live and think as a coach, as it will be hard if not impossible for us to impart anything to the client that we do not have a grasp of ourselves. Life is rather like surfing too, and…let’s not forget the party on the beach afterwards!
And here is a small homework, should you are willing to take it. (It’s a coaching newsletter after all!)
What is your metaphor for coaching?
What was the first thing that came into your mind?
As you think about that, what are the implications?
Have a great week and talk again in a fortnight.
Take care, learn and enjoy!