(I shared a short version of this text elsewhere… this is the expanded version with a little deconstruction. If you are just perusing this site, you may notice this post is also in the "My Approach" page. I was undecided about where to put it so I put it in both places! :)
I visualize coaching as a large body of water upon which floats a comfortable and sturdy sailing boat. I (coach) am the boat. You (coachee) are the Captain. Your vision and wonderings are the wind that fills the sails. Your work at the helm is what harnesses and focuses that wind to move forward towards your destination(s). You chart the course for our long term and daily journeys. You are at the helm, to adjust the speed, steer, monitor our direction and progress, and respond to challenges as the journey develops.
As Captain, you can change course as and when you wish in response to local conditions, or when new discoveries come into focus from over the horizon. Maybe you even decide to go into port for a while… in short, you are responsible for using the boat, the wind and the water to move forward: your actions (I include “thinking” as an action) will take us to the desired destination. How you handle the boat will get us there sooner or later.
As on any journey, you can expect some glorious days with gentle breezes as we move forward.
Other days will be windy and the speed exhilarating, even scary.
If we get into a closed backwater where the water is still and stagnant, the boat will let you know when it runs aground so you can steer back out into the forward moving current.
There will inevitably be some stormy days… unpleasant conditions, but with a sturdy boat and a committed Captain who is responsive to changes in the environment, we can make it to a port or ride out the storm.
Occasionally a particularly heavy storm may blow up out of nowhere and you may get dumped into the water. No worries, the boat comes with a life preserver system to keep you afloat and help you back into the boat.
On particularly still days, you can throw pebbles into the water and see what patterns the ripples make as they expand and eventually come up against the shore, perhaps even developing into waves.
And… just a little deconstruction…
What stands out to me about this image is the importance of the figure of the Captain. The boat may be sturdy and the winds fine, but the key to arriving somewhere is a person who is not afraid to be responsible for the boat and the journey, a person who makes choices and takes action.
Another key idea for me in this image is that in addition to desiring a destination, action is needed to actually getting there: the Captain identifies the destination(s) desired, charts possible courses to get there and then chooses one (at least to start off), calculates how much time s/he wants to spend on the journey, and makes some provision for the unexpected or for delays. S/he also steers the boat, trims the sails, checks the weather, adapts to changing conditions... S/he is the one who decides when the journey is over and where s/he wants to go next time.
I am sure there is more to play with in this metaphor, positive and negative. I would love to hear any ideas that come to mind as you read.