The story goes like this…
In the deep ocean, there are two young fish swimming along. An older fish is swimming towards them. As the older fish passes the younger fish, the older fish nods at them, “How’s the water boys?”
The two younger fish lean towards each other, as only fish can do, and ask themselves, “What water?”
Because coaching is an experience, it is a challenge to describe. Based on the experiences I have had in my own personal coaching sessions I get from my own coach (yes, if you are a coach, you need to have your own coach), I’m going to do my best.
When I enter the coaching space as a client, I enter a nonjudgmental space. I come as I am. Sometimes I show up with a lot of clarity about what I want to move forward in my life. Sometimes I show up “stuck in the suck”, as a friend of mine says.
However I show up, my coach welcomes me. There are times when I just need to vent and through the venting, an issue becomes clear that- yes this is what I want to see movement on or perhaps gain a different perspective. My coach will often ask me. What do you want to use this time for? What would make this session valuable to you? What is the most important thing for us to focus on?
The most value being coached brings to me is the space to really think. To be challenged by someone who doesn’t view me or my ideas as something to fix. Rather they see me as being the undisputed expert on myself. Recognizing I have been with myself longer than anyone else has. My coach sees me as someone who already has everything I need and is my partner while I rediscover this innate wisdom that seems to only come when we allow ourselves to be still and in a space held by another.
It’s hard to do deep thinking by yourself. It’s hard to coach yourself. Coaching creates a container for this to occur and it works.
Coaching is being in a partnership with another who sees you as being the expert of your life, while holding a nonjudgmental space for you to re-discover the wisdom you already have and to see it from a different perspective.
David Foster Wallace said it best, “The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about”.
Like being heard.
Image by Cristian Palmer
Story paraphrased from a speech given in 2005 by David Foster Wallace