A Beginning to an Ending
And then I remember, the tree is shedding her wondrous cloak of many colours
So she can conserve her energy, go inwards for some quiet contemplation
To then come back and say ‘hello’ later through tiny buds with much potential and growth
And joy to come again – new leaves, new buds, pretty blossoms and juicy fruits
Yes, indeed, as the leaves fall, it is truly bittersweet
An extract from the poem ‘As the Leaves Fall’
by Gillian Gabriel, 2022
As I walked by I called out, ‘Good morning Cherry!’ Reader, meet Cherry… Cherry, meet the reader. Cherry’s my favourite tree along this road. I patted her trunk, her gouged out wisdom brushing my fingertips, and chirped cheerily, ‘It won’t be long now!’ The ‘it’ being Spring and the time for her to blossom then thrive.
Spring is my favourite because it brings hope and marks new growth. This explains why learning and development has always been ‘my thing’’ and coaching and coaching supervision my specialism. Oh the a-has, realisations, moments of clarity, venturing out from what’s kept you dormant for too long!
How fitting it feels to describe how coaching has facilitated clients’ exploration of their potential as it has mine, as experienced by Cherry through the seasons. The seasons of coaching — where to begin? To have a beginning there must have been an ending? That’s something I’ll come back to later.
Winter — Explore
During winter much of the natural world goes into hibernation; activity pauses, yet the world keeps turning. Cherry goes into dormancy, loses her leaves, yet there’s life within.
In the winter season of coaching, clients go inward, becoming deeply reflective. They temporarily withdraw to do the inner work thinking of what’s passed, achievements, and lessons learned. They analyse their actions, pull the wisdom and strengths from experiences, and get closer to what needs changing.
As a coach in the winter phase, my potential is released through the practice of ‘letting be and stilling the mind,’ and the approach of ‘taking time to reflect’ (Prentice, 2019). I’ve learnt to go deeply within, to listen beyond my thoughts, my heart, and gut — to offer up what I’m experiencing, checking for meaning while being open for none.
From believing clients are ‘creative, resourceful and whole’ (Whitworth et al, 1998), I’ve moved to trusting them to do their own work becoming comfortable in not knowing — the story, what will happen, what we’ll say or do. This season enables my empath superpower giving me the courage to work with what I’m experiencing to aid deeper thinking.
Spring — Create
As spring emerges, light returns, a state of renewal, new life and beginnings. Cherry’s buds reveal themselves. She starts producing blooms, her leaves grow, and her beautiful blossoms attract bees and pollination, encouraging the development of later fruit. Her pretty blossom falls like confetti heralding growth.
Energy builds in clients in the spring of coaching. They awaken, unfold, and believe in their potential for change, different, new. They re-emerge back to who they are as they know themselves again. Insights gleaned lead to new ideas, experiments, ways of being.
During the coaching spring my potential is leveraged by one of my values: empowerment — independence with vulnerability, bravery, and daring. I invite clients to embrace choice and its pleasure, asking what they want to do with insights gathered. The ‘So what?’ question of the ‘What? So what? Now what?’ model (Boud, Keogh & Walker, 2013). The springboard of the practice ‘creating possibilities’ using the approach ‘what new possibilities?’ (Prentice, 2019).
Summer — Express
The sun beats down on the earth in summer bringing energy, nourishment, and abundance. Days are longer, nights warm; life’s full of adventure, play, creativity, action, expression. Cherry’s absorbing the sun, thriving, growing her bounty of juicy cherries soon to be ripe.
Clients in the height of the coaching summer are experimenting, nurturing new ways, thriving in their stretch zone, and becoming the change sought. Their desired state is manifesting; creative ideas come to fruition, goals are achieved, and previously untapped areas of potential are burgeoning. The results are felt and visible.
This season sees me growing through supervision, mentoring, and coaching for me. Maturing through my reflective practice individually and with others, taking my competence and presence to the next level. While inviting clients to notice what’s shifted, I too take time to recognise my unfurling and growth. Summer is a practice of ‘appreciating the bounty’ through the approach of ‘savouring what you have’ (Prentice, 2019).
Autumn — Release
Autumn brings thanks for abundance, stocking up, winding down, preparing for what’s next, making space, and letting go. Cherry’s lush green leaves turn to shades of bronze, gold, and red, then begin to fall as she lets go of what will no longer serve her ahead.
Clients in the glow of the coaching autumn slow down and take stock of where they are, turning to where next. They gain clarity between what they’re grateful for and what needs to go and make space to plant seeds instead. They let go of limiting beliefs, unhelpful assumptions, expectations, shoulds, and ways of being that no longer serve.
Through the practice of ‘pruning and clarifying’ and the approach of ‘letting go to let come’ (Prentice, 2019), I’ve shaken off self-doubt and urgency to get it right. I recognise how I get in my own way and that of my client. Instead of a super focus on what I’m doing, I’m ploughing the way for how I’m being, a richer soil for my growth letting the oxygen in.
An Ending to a Beginning
‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end’
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
As the seasons flow into each other, Cherry will hibernate, blossom, bear fruit, drop her leaves and repeat. And so the client’s growth will be continuous, and, as a coach, learning is my life’s work. The seasons are around us, in us, as everything is ever changing, evolving, transforming.
The seasons of coaching don’t follow in a linear way, rather there are seasons within seasons, ebbing and flowing, always moving forward. Our potential continuously reveals itself to us. I’m here to learn with, from and alongside others — including the birds and the bees and, of course, the seasons, clients and trees!
Boud, D., Keogh, R., & Walker, D. (2013), Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, Routledge
Prentice, K. (2019), Nature’s Way: Designing the LIfe You Want Through the Lens of Nature and the Five Seasons
Whitworth, L., Kimsey-House, H., & Sandahl, P. (1998), Co-Active Coaching, California: Davies Blade Publishing