Earlier this year, we bought a cabin on a creek. It’s just feet from the water. We’ve seen muskrats and osprey, frogs and turtles, geese and salamanders and crayfish. Every moment you look, the creek is different than it was. It carries leaves downstream and sometimes fallen branches, and the bubbles aren’t the same as before. This creek, it’s alive.
You never know what manner of life the creek will bring, so you watch and wait, and though you’ve seen this creek before, you really haven’t—it’s new. Our little creek is what Annie Dillard calls in Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, “an active mystery, fresh every minute.”
Coaching is like the creek. I often go into a coaching call thinking it’ll go one way, then it shifts directions, unexpectedly. This happened just the other day when I was the client.
My coach asks me what I want to work on, so I answer him something about my new business: “I want to end up with a list of tasks not to neglect, which will lead to success.”
So my coach asks some coaching questions, and pretty soon we’re treading in deep waters that I hadn’t expected to enter. I wanted tasks, instead I end up examining mindsets and calling out fears.
How did we get here? How good are tasks done if I’m making decisions out of fear? Point taken.
Coaching is alive.
You gather yourself for your call and it takes a different turn. The current flows one way, you wanted to go another, the best thing is to surrender. So let the current carry you, yield your own way, let coaching take you where it may. There’s something bigger going on than what you suppose. Release control, point yourself downstream, float. Coaching is alive.
Coaching is an active mystery.
There’s no telling where a good question will lead. Let curiosity guide you and you end up in places you never dreamed. You discover, you invent, you craft, you create. You dig into deep places where birds sing and toads dance and you live from who you are. Answers don’t do this, questions do. Let the questions lead. Coaching is an active mystery.
Coaching is fresh every minute.
You’ll find something new every minute. One insight leads to another, discovery upon discovery. You’re an explorer, you’re a bullfighter, you’re a sailor, you’re a poet. You see the world with wonder. There’s movement now and horizons and stories and stars. The bog is gone, the new has come. You feel hope and joy again. Coaching is fresh every minute.
We’ve been going to the creek for six months now. I still get butterflies in my stomach when we approach because I don’t know what’s going to happen or what I’m going to see. I don’t know what manner of life the creek will bring.
But I do know this—my job is to show up and let the creek be. That creek is alive.