Posts Tagged ‘Gibran’

How similar is Parenting to Coaching?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

My last blog related to Khalil Gibran and his thoughts on Teaching, from his book, “The Prophet”. This blog relates to his writings on Children from the same book. This passage was where I first learned of Gibran. Sara, who I had trained as a trainer and then stayed in contact with after the course, gave me a framed copy of this passage together with a copy of the book for my birthday many years ago. The passage moves me every time I read it:

“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, ‘Speak to us of Children’. And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

Read it again – I’m sure you can’t have taken it all in from one reading!

Ever since being introduced to this passage I have used it as my strategy for bringing up my children. It was very much what I think I already did, but it sums up how I wanted to be as a parent so beautifully. It also highlights how easy it is to be unhelpful to those we seek to assist in growing.

And I say ‘growing’ rather than ‘growing up’ intentionally – because I often wonder how much this passage relates to training, coaching and other developmental activities? Does is encapsulate Carl Rogers approach to such relationships? Gibran was very good friends with Jung – how much of Jung’s influence is present?  Most importantly, can it be used as a backdrop to what an exceptional coach or trainer seeks to achieve?

As a trainer or coach, my clients “come through” me when they attend a programme or a meeting. I show them unconditional positive regard, but I hope I don’t give them my thoughts. I should not “seek to make them like (me)”. And they certainly must be responsible for their own arrows, although hopefully I can assist them in making their bows more stable.

So is the passage really about children? Or is it also about teaching, training and coaching, or life or relationships in general?

I struggle with these questions every time I read the passage – which hangs on the wall in my office. But what I don’t struggle with is the brilliance of the writing, the beauty of the metaphors and the wondrous skill of Gibran’s storytelling.

Paul

Prophesising facilitation?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post arguing that training can never be exceptional. In short, this is because training is an output – whereas it is the outcome which is of value. I’m not sure whether people agreed with me or not, but it is actually my most read post so it has been at least of interest to people.

I do believe, though, that training (the output) can vary considerably dependent upon a number of factors, perhaps the most important of which is the trainer or facilitator.

A few years ago I was introduced to the work of the poet Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), and in particular his book “The Prophet”.  The book comprises 26 short essays where the Prophet speaks to the crowds on a number of subjects.

As for Gibran himself, he was an American-Lebanese writer, and is the third best-selling poet of all time behind Shakespeare and Lao Tzu – so there is a good chance you will already know about him.

I really enjoy his short essays as they say so much – and so succinctly. One of the essays relates his thoughts on ‘Teaching’. He tells the crowd:

“No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind. The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.

And even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.”

I just love that! What do you think of it? As I said at the start, the essay is about ‘Teaching’, but the term ‘Facilitation’ in relation to developing others had not been coined when Gibran published his book in 1923, but in my eyes it sums up facilitated learning beautifully.

And he makes it sound so simple! In less than 200 words he has given a wonderful account of what differentiates a poor trainer or facilitator from a great one. And within that word count the Prophet has included examples, together with visual, auditory and kinesthetic references thus appealing to the different learning styles within the crowd.

If more trainers, coaches, managers and the like went with the view that all the people they work with have all this ability which, “lies half asleep in the dawning of (their) knowledge”, what would be the effect? Too often such people are judged as opposed to being given the opportunity; closed down as opposed to being encouraged to grow – not the led to the, “threshold of (their) own mind”.

If you think there are any aspects missing, what are they? What additional sentence might you add?

Paul

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

If you read my last post, you may recall (well, you should recall – it was only yesterday!) that I was illustrating some possible principles for coaching through use of quotes from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran.

The next few quotes describe to me aspects of the relationship between the coach and coachee:

    Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower,
    But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.
    For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life,
    And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love,
    And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.

    Your friend is your needs answered.
    He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

    The mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

    And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.
    And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.

And my final section is devoted to the coachee, or a learner in any situation. I think these are probably my favourites, and some of them I find very powerful:

    And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?    We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us.    Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or our rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

    Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
    Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
    
    And seek not the depths of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
    For self is a sea boundless and measureless.
    Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
    Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
    For the soul walks upon all paths.
    The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
    The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

    No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of our knowledge.    You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.
    This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link.
    To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.

    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

What do you think? Do you like them? Are there any that particularly stand out for you? Or do they do nothing for you? Do you have some alternative principles or inspirational quotes?

And looking at the two posts as a whole, and revisiting my question with regard to coaching models, what are your views?

Paul

Do we need models for coaching?

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

I am amazed at how many coaching models appear to have been created over the last few years. Almost every time I run a session on coaching, someone in the group tells me of another model I then encounter for the first time. Are they all required? Are any of them required? Perhaps I ask the question as I come from a standpoint that I don’t see any of them as particularly useful.

Well, there’s one I like – and I first heard about it last year. It is the “WAIT” model. And it stands for “Why Am I Talking?”. Which perhaps isn’t a model but more of a principle – which could explain why I like it. I much prefer the idea of operating from a set of principles.

The best bit of coaching I ever received was about 13 or 14 years ago near a lock on a waterway somewhere in Cambridgeshire. I had stopped off on the way to or from somewhere to have a meal with my very dear friend Sara. Sara and I are different in many ways – perhaps the most striking being my liking to consider and plan, and Sara being a person who does almost everything on the spur of the moment. We were having a walk (with a bit of skipping and the odd cartwheel thrown in for good measure) near this river or canal, having a laugh and being silly. As we approached the lock, Sara said, “Come on, let’s walk across the lock”, and off she went stepping on to this thin lock gate. “But I might fall in”, I retorted. “And?” she shouted back, almost at the other side.

That “And?” has replayed many times in my mind since then and in many different situations. It didn’t need a model to make it great, but it did need a relationship.

Sara also introduced me to a book called “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran. As he is apparently the third most read poet in history, and this particular work is his most famous, you may have read it. “The Prophet” is said to be his metaphor for life.

I think it offers some very inspirational thoughts that can work very well as principles for coaching and training. The following are some extracts that help me to ensure that I am as effective as possible as a coach or trainer.

    The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
    If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
    You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
    For they have their own thoughts. 

    You give but little when you give of your possessions.
    It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. 

    Work is love made visible.
    And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should
 leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
    For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
    And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
    And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
    And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.
    For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words many indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
What do you think?

Tomorrow I will offer some other quotes from the book which will relate to principles that coachees or learners could adopt and quotes that could apply to the coach and coachee relationship.

Paul