Coaching with Jack Johnson (playing in the background)

Sitting on a plane on my way home from two weeks of coaching in East Africa. In my headphones Jack Johnson’s (All at once) lyric rings true:

All at once,
The world can overwhelm me
There’s almost nothin’ that you could tell me
That could ease my mind

Which way will you run
When it’s always all around you
And the feelin’ lost and found you again
A feelin’ that we have no control”

Each of the leaders I spent time with on this trip expressed something of what Johnson captures in this song. Over and again the question was asked “which way forward from here?”

I don’t come as some “Western-know-it-all” expert dishing out answers and solutions from on high. No, I come as a friend to step into the mess and the darkness with them.

Over dinner, breakfast, lunch and coffee. In lakeside restaurants and inner-city slums. In three countries, over 12 days. The conversation was the same.

You see the art of coaching is not in providing answers to these very real questions. No, the art is in asking even more questions and holding the silence long enough until new possibilities start to take shape in the minds of those you coach.

Johnson goes on:

I wanna take the preconceived
Out from underneath your feet
We could shake it off
Instead we’ll plant some seeds
We’ll watch em’ as they grow
And with each new beat
From your heart the roots grow deeper
The branches will they reach for what
Nobody really knows”

That is the art of coaching – the process of asking good questions that displace the preconceived to make space for new ideas full of incredible potential.