A Coaching Model Created by Heather Tingle
(Transformation Coach, CANADA)
My coaching model symbolizes how I visualize coaching, how I approach the process of coaching a client, and what the client brings to coaching, whether they know it yet or not. Because I’m a visual person, the elements are visual, evoking archetypes and representing concepts and philosophy rather than structure. This is a client-centered model; the coach and coaching process are not represented as distinct entities because they are secondary to the client. Rather, the model depicts aspects of the client that are intrinsically critical to coaching and reflects relationships between those components. The coaching opportunities then become apparent as the coach integrates into the client’s landscape. To me, important objectives in coaching center around finding clarity, connecting to inner strengths and values, and consciously choosing a route forward. The natural world is my home so it is only natural that my model would be a metaphor from the wilderness.
Explanation of the Elements
This model is set in the darkness of night, with a luminescent moon rising. Darkness is representative of the client’s world from the coach’s perspective, and my curiosity to explore without an ability to see everything all at once. In the dark, we don’t know what’s out there (which can be scary for some – more on that in the owl section) and we must consciously search for what we are after. As a coach, I cultivate a sense of comfort in and patience with darkness. The questions I ask are like a flashlight, a tool to more easily notice or explore. Darkness, too, is a time of change, shifting, and renewal. Morning and a fresh new start/perspective not far away.
The owl is the client. Owls typically evoke the idea of wisdom, skillfulness, and quiet,(with antecedents of observation, purpose, and peace), which are all qualities I hope my clients can connect to in themselves. The owl on the fencepost signifies the client in the present, with supports from external sources but full power to move at will. The detail in the owl (this is an amateur sketch, please feel free to embellish with your own imagination!) shows that the present is rich in detailed information, and represents the importance of clear vision (clarity in purpose, clarity in understanding of self, and clarity in observation, for example). This owl has choices – to rest if needed, to observe and notice opportunities, or to take a leap into the air.
Night, of course, is the owl’s time; it is fully equipped with what it needs to thrive, without fear and despite uncertainty. The owl does not need the coach to find the prey or interfere in the hunt. The owl as a quiet creature signifies to me that it has trust or faith in its ability to handle whatever comes, with the understanding that not every hunt will be successful. Experimentation and practice are part of the hunting process.
The fencepost is a manifestation of the supports a client can utilize, and also acknowledges that different supports can provide different perspectives. For example, a tree branch might offer greater shelter from the elements along with a higher perspective, while a fencepost is useful for a wide-open approach. The selection of supports (whether they be people, resources, or something else) is another asset the owl can consciously consider.
Flying Owls in the Background
The owls in flight represent the client in the past and future. They are visible but not as detailed and are smaller, which depicts the relative importance of the present. The future owl is higher, closer, and has more detail than the past owl, to show that the future is to be worked for/striven for. The future has less detail than the present because those details are yet to be determined, with just imagination to give it shape. The past owl is distant but still very much a part of the picture, and this reminds me that while the focus is on the owl right here in front of me, the past must not be discounted. That past owl could even be a threat.
The inner world and thoughts of the client are represented by the moon: luminescent, reflective, mysterious, and transformative (please use your imagination to augment the illustration). The client is surrounded by but is also separate from, their inner world/thoughts. The moon connects the owl to its past and future. The moon is huge, just as the inner thoughts/world of the client are hugely important, and because it reflects light it reveals detail we might otherwise miss. Inner thoughts also have the power to transform, to stimulate growth or contraction. The moon’s glow feels empowering and benevolent, just as we hope to enable the thoughts of our clients to be.
The coach is present as the observer, separate from and looking in on the client’s world. Because this is a client-focused model the coach is not a part of the representational image.
Coaching is, to me, an organic process that happens in the territory of our clients. This model reminds me that a coach can benefit from the skillful application of observation, reflection, peaceful acceptance, and quiet while treading in their world. The balance between past, present, and future are important to keep in mind, as is an awareness of the vastness and climate of the client’s inner and outer world. Coaching is not about the coach; it is about being present in the client’s beautiful wilderness.