Co-creative relationship is the cornerstone of masterful coaching. Sometimes, however, this concept is difficult for new coaches or potential clients to fully understand. In explaining the co-creative relationship I like to use a gardening metaphor.
Together, you and your client have a responsibility to grow a garden of possibilities and changes. You both have specific roles as a “gardening partner”. Your client chooses the seed or plant (agenda) they want to grow during each session. You as a coach provide the tools for gardening – listening deeply, recognizing, asking powerful questions, intuitively answering and providing comments and feedback. The terrain in which you both work is the breeding ground of the co-creative coaching relationship. Each of you actively participates in the design of the overall landscape of the garden.
Germinate and grow
In each session, the coach and the client focus on sowing a single seed or on the tendency to a single plant (clarifying the agenda). So work together to cultivate and fertilize the soil; weed removal; and thin crowded seedlings. This can be compared, consequently, to a powerful and intuitive conversation; challenge negative thoughts, and narrowing to specific action steps. All these activities help the client’s seeds to sprout and grow into strong and healthy plants.
Coaching, like gardening, takes time and patience. A rolling moment can suddenly appear when you least expect it, like a tender shoot hitting the ground. At other times a customer’s seed can sprout more slowly. The power of silence in a coaching session can give that seed time to incubate, absorb nutrients and grow at its own pace.
And finally, the presence of sunlight, rain, birds, earthworms and other garden aides represent the vast resources and experience that both the coach and the client can draw on and bring into the coaching relationship. Together, over time, both partners nurture the customer’s tender seeds of opportunity for healthy plants of positive change, in a co-creative garden.