This post continues from the earlier post, on how I explain what is coaching to friends and people I’ve met.
Most of the time, people would then ask: Since coaching is so different from other approaches, what difference can it make? In other words, what’s the value of coaching?
Many times, we talk about things like underlying problems, hidden roadblocks, inner obstacles, shadow issues. So what can be experience or gained by the coachees, which are tangible?
Many coaches including myself know that coaching is best experienced rather than explained. Somethings can’t be taught – but they can be caught.
The next best thing is, we can also use metaphors, stories and analogies to help paint the picture clearer. Here are just two of them that I’ve thought of.
Sometimes, I use either one of these two powerful analogies to illustrate what coaching is and is not.
Kung Fu Masters
For the first analogy, think of two opposite kung fu martial artists.
The first artist displays energetic, flowery forms and big movements. His kicks are fanciful, and the twirls look pretty. He leaps, flips and flys through the air like the acrobats. But all that pretty-looking techniques are only good for TV and movies – they have zero martial value. They are just superficial.
Now imagine the second artist. He is calm and doesn’t waste his movements very much, he appeared doing very little (at least to the uninitiated). His movement is graceful, relaxed yet subtle. And when he strikes, he aims at fundamental trigger points that deliver the critical blow and produce maximum damage. Like a Tai Chi master, he savors the nuance of simple, quiet movements that has deep, powerful impacts.
A coach is like the second kung fu artist. What he does is really not for show, not to impress the crowd. What he does goes deeper and can only be felt by the coachee alone – something is moved, and some things cannot remain the same for him.
The Snorkeller and the Diver
For the second analogy, think of a snorkeller and a scuba diver.
The snorkeller swims at the surface, uses a lot of energy to move and he think what he sees is very beautiful. Well, I don’t discount the beautiful part, but he hasn’t seen nothing yet! He doesn’t know what he’s missing.
On the other hand, the scuba diver dives deep down, and when he reaches balanced buoyancy, he glides effortlessly underwater almost like a fish. It’s a whole different beautiful world he discovers and experiences down there. He sees wonderful things that are unseen to the people at the surface.
Normal conversations are like snorkelling, at the surface. You gather lots of information, sure, but you exert much energy.
Coaching conversations are like scuba diving, at the deep level. You make new discoveries, deep learning and gain insights that are life-changing.
That is why coaching should be experienced, and not merely explained by words. You can explain what scuba diving is to the snorkeller, but only to a certain extent. He has to experience to see it for himself.
Do you have your own analogy/metaphor? I would love to read it.