Five things I learnt about coaching… from a Canada goose family

I was riding my bike by the Bow river the other day, and stopped to watch a gosling with a big dilemma.

It was standing on the big rocks by the swirling water that was fast and high from the melting snow, and heard her Mamma call “Come on! We’re going!”.

Canada geese family swimming on Bow River, in Calgary.
Maybe the same goose family, same river but lot more quiet waters than in the story.

The family was leaving, swimming upstream. And there was this tiny few weeks old gosling, unsure and hesitating: should I jump towards Mommy on the rocks or should I swim after her?

Well, we’re not few weeks old anymore, but we can probably relate to this, eh?  When neither of our choices seem easy and we need some support. And quick!

Okay, here comes what Papa Goose taught me that day on how to be a better coach.

Coaches let clients do the work

Papa Goose didn’t solve the problem for his gosling. Yep. The little one had to swim and walk and jump all the way through.

Same goes with coaching. You, the client, have to sweat and think and struggle. (And dust yourself off and keep going after a bad move, with bleeding knees. I know.)

Coaches have faith in their clients

Did, at any time, Papa Goose pick up his baby to save her? Nope.

He watched closely and had faith in her that she will be able to do it eventually.

It might take a while. This is not an easy situation, swimming upstream, climbing rocks… But she can do it.

And so can you guys. If you set your mind to reach a goal, prepare carefully and keep doing your baby steps, I’m hundred percent positive you will get there. I have faith in you.

(How come? We haven’t even met! Because I believe that everybody can learn, change, and grow. If they want to. 🙂 )

Coaches listen carefully

At some point, baby gosling got totally carried away by the river… It looked like she is not going to stop ’til the ocean! So she started to make loud, fast ‘sheeep-sheeep-sheeep!’ sounds to signal Daddy that she is in trouble.

So when I’m having a coaching conversation, I’m listening closely. I pay attention to words, pauses, gestures, facial expressions… even the tension and energy coming from the client. People rarely make cute baby goose sounds, and rarely say explicitly what their biggest fears are… But us, coaches, have to be able to notice if something is wrong, if you guys are blocked, confused or afraid. So we could help you work your way through the mess.

Coaches are present… talking is overrated

Do you want to know what happened, when the river swept away the baby? Did Papa Goose give advice to his youngster? Told her what to do next? Warned her to be careful? No. Not a word. Not even a question.

He just stopped, swam right back to her and stayed with her.

Sometimes that’s all we can do. When the situation is just terribly bad, and my friend just cannot humanly do anything about it, I just stay with her. A little compassionate listening can go a long way to help us feel heard. And solutions will come later.

Coaches stay in touch and cheer

I noticed that while the baby found her solution, and jumped on rocks then swam a bit on quieter water then got out and jumped on rocks a bit again, Daddy made some gentle sounds from time to time. It was like ‘You’re getting there! Keep it up!’

His presence and his voice was enough for the gosling to calm down and keep paddling.

Coaches are the same for clients. You can count on us to be there when you are panicking, overwhelmed or ready to give up. Can we solve the problem for you? No.

But we can point out your strengths and cheer your efforts, as you are paddling like crazy and jumping on rocks. Way to go, baby goose!

Take away

In the end, the baby got a learning experience, some confidence boost and reached her goal. I work for about the same for all my clients, too. 🙂

If you have any questions, write a comment below or contact me through my contact page for a complimentary 30 minutes phone coaching session. Take care!

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