Coaching: What Is It, Exactly?


This past weekend I was reminded of a quote by Michelangelo in regard to his famous statue, David. It’s a pretty remarkable piece of art, especially when you consider that it was created from one block of solid marble. The quote reads: 

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

This phrase stuck with me and has been rolling around in my mind for a few days now. It stood out — and I’m sharing it with you now — because it is such a beautiful metaphor for coaching. I interpret Michelangelo’s words to mean that he saw the beauty and potential within the block of marble from the beginning. He didn’t need to add anything to it to make it complete or whole. All he needed was time, effort and trust to bring David to life. I love this quote because Michelangelo’s mindset here speaks to a foundational pillar of coaching philosophy. 

As a coach, I believe…

You are creative, resourceful and whole. 

You have everything you need within you. 

You already have all the answers— it just takes time, effort and trust to access them. 

This means that as a coach, I am not going to give you the answers or give you advice. This would make me more like a mentor or consultant. And while there’s nothing wrong with either, it’s just not what I do in our work together. I believe that your “aha” moments are the most powerful, and you deserve to have them. I also don’t believe that there’s anything in or about you that needs to be “fixed”, or that there’s a past wound that needs to be healed. This line of thinking is usually more common in therapy and best addressed within that space. 

Clarity between all of these roles — mentor, coach, consultant and therapist — is crucial so that you can get the right kind of support you’re looking for. 

Now that I’ve shared a bit more about what coaching isn’t, let me tell you what coaching is. Coaching is a personal growth and development modality, and I help you achieve both by creating a container, through our partnership, for you to explore, get to know yourself better and discover your own answers and solutions. We’re a team, and I’m there to provide support, a safe and judgmental-free zone and a listening ear. I ask a lot of questions to help you delve deeper into what matters to you, and what’s important. Together, we get clear on your values, your beliefs, and more. Coaching is goal-oriented and future-focused; I’m there to help you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. 

So, back to Michelangelo’s quote above. You may feel like a block of marble right now, but I can already see what you’re capable of. I know, and I trust, that the answers to your questions and the solutions you seek are all within your grasp. 

The real question is, can you? 

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