The co-creative relationship is the cornerstone of masterful coaching. Sometimes, however, this concept is difficult for new coaches or prospective clients to fully grasp. In explaining the co-creative relationship I like to use a gardening metaphor.
Together, you and your client are responsible for growing a garden of possibility and change. You both have specific roles as ‘gardening partners’. Your client chooses the seed or plant (the agenda) that they want to cultivate during each session. You as coach provide the gardening tools – listening deeply, acknowledging, asking powerful questions, responding intuitively, and providing observations and feedback. The soil in which you both work is the fertile ground of the co-creative coaching relationship. You are each active participants in designing the overall landscape of the garden.
Germinate and Grow
In each session, coach and client focus on planting just one seed, or tending to a single plant (clarifying the agenda). You then work together to till and fertilize the soil; remove weeds; and thin crowded seedlings. This can be likened, correspondingly, to engaging in powerful and intuitive conversation; challenging negative thoughts; and narrowing down to specific action steps. All these activities help the client‘s seeds to germinate and grow into strong healthy plants.
Coaching, like gardening, takes time and patience. A coachable moment may suddenly appear when you least expect it, like a tender shoot poking through the soil. Other times a client‘s seed may 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 helpers represent the vast resources and experience both coach and client can draw upon and bring into the coaching relationship. Together, over time, both partners nurture the client‘s tender seeds of possibility into healthy plants of positive change, in a co-creative garden.