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Good Coach to Great Coach

Blog by Prasad Deshpande on Sep 22, 2015
In lovely Florence, undoubtedly the most impressive living art gallery pretending to be a town, there are two places which stand out for me. The Uffizi gallery and the Accademia Gallery.

The former houses SandroBotticelli's 'Birth of Venus' and the latter, the statue of David. David up front and close has a majesty, a presence that photographs simply can't convey. "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

Michelangelo's vision, his intuition of what lay beneath the marble and his devotion to his craft, shone through. Michelangelo, according to our guide,waited several years before he found the right block of Carrera marble for his David. Again the story of his painting the Sistine Chapel for 17 years, lying on his back on a scaffold, is too well known to be retold here. Perhaps, what is not so well known, was his penchant for slyly painting in his critics as demons to have a last laugh as well as his rivalry with Da Vinci.

As I wandered around Florence admiring the streets and the town square, carelessly adorned with masterpieces,I wondered what separates an artist from a maestro. A good sculptor from a Michelangelo? A good coach from a great coach? If we can't all be like Michelangelo, possessed of his genius, surely we can learn to live up to his ideals.

Dewitt Jones, the celebrated National Geographic photographer has deeply thought about this. His work is renowned for capturing the extraordinary beauty present in everyday lives and in the world around us. A beauty that passes us by because we are so busy doing stuff.

How could he see that! Is the question that will oft come to mind, if you watch his short film '' Celebrate what is right with the World".

For Dewitt, it is belief, passion and a willingness to 'see '. ''You see it, if you believe in it'. Helped him create magic on celluloid. It's about having the humility to wait, observe and learn.

To recognize that the world moves about us quietly, in so many different ways and not necessarily around us. It was about trusting his process, becoming one with his lens as he captured not just good but great photographs...

It was about his desire to the 'best for the world' and not only the 'best in the world, that compelled De Wight to wait patiently till he 'saw' it, to persevere till the vista in front him matched his vision.

This is true for coaching as well. Great coaches 'get it'. They get it, that masterful coaching is about being the best for the client and being the best for someone, isn't easy.

P. was tasked with growing his design division, his team prepares technical plans for a variety of irrigation projects all over the world. The team was new, deadlines were tight and managing for him, was mostly telling. For P, expressing himself freely in English was also a challenge. As I listened in Marathi(his mother tongue), he revealed facets of his personality such as grit and sensitivity that I would have never 'seen' , if I had not consciously softened my veneer of urban 'sophistication', central to my identity as a good coach. Instead of struggling to understand how to coach him in the best way, he took the lead to help me become more comfortable with him and understand him better.

Being the best for your client, I've realized is about letting go of the toolbox and the set of questions that we are so eager to ask as good coaches as well as our innate desire to demonstrate to the client, how much we know.

Being the best for your client is about dropping one's guard, to be willing to be vulnerable in the moment, trusting one's self and one's process in order to come up with the questions or even observations, that matter to the client in the moment. For the client these are the powerful, transformational, 'aha' experiences.

Being the best for the client is partnering with the client. Great coaches, by being truthful, are able to cut the through the issues that bindlike Alexander the Great with Gordian knot.

In a coaching conversation where things appear stuck and not going anywhere( it happens quite often!), acknowledging the situation for what it is, being open to not knowing, is enough at times, to galvanize the client to move forward and take control; which is what coaching is all about in any case.

By striving to be the best for the client, agood coach istransformedby the imprint of each engagement with a client, to a great coach. Over the years, like amyriad Michelangelo's silently chipping away at the marble, our clients set us free.

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