What exactly is coaching? It’s a tough thing to explain – one of those things you can only truly appreciate after you’ve experienced it. But if you’re considering coaching for the first time, how can you get an idea of what you’re signing up for to help decide if it’s right for you?

After wrestling with this question for years, I’ve come up with two admittedly goofy, but equally effective metaphors to help prospective clients understand what coaching is:

Rain Boots and Spaghetti.  

rainboots jumping in a puddle

The two major aspects of coaching are noticing and experimentation. Noticing is the idea that we want to expand your awareness of yourself, your situation, and how other people may be thinking and feeling as well. Think of it this way: when you go outside in a storm, you pull on your rain boots and prepare to get wet. It’s the same with coaching. You and your coach, clad in your respective rain boots, will stomp around in the rain and mud surrounding your situation. You’ll examine what you find from many angles, with new perspectives emerging along the way.

From this place of expanded perspective, more options for what to do or how to show-up will become apparent. It’s time to experiment, but with the insight as to what might have the most leverage. This is like taking spaghetti and throwing it at the wall to see if it sticks! But in a targeted fashion – here’s the best place to throw it and where we think it’s going to stick. Sometimes it doesn’t, and so we get out another strand of pasta and take aim at another spot. This is the iterative process to behavior change that is inherent in the coaching process.  

I, and my clients, find these metaphors effective in creating common understanding about what coaching will look like and feel like. If you’ve been coached before, do they resonate with your experience? If you haven’t been coached before, are they helpful? Drop me a line and let me know. I’d love to hear your experience or if my goofy comparisons resonate with you. 

The next article in this series covers the various distinctions in coaching that make it such a unique method for development.