Is that story related to you?
Recently I came across a story, it’s not a new one but reading the story I realize that it’s pretty much a short story related to leadership coaching.
I never read the story before, but when I read it, I just loved it and I immediately realized the true meaning of acting as leader and coach! That is the story of “a man and the butterfly”.
One day, a man found a cocoon of a butterfly in his garden. He saw the small hole and the butterfly struggling to get through this small hole. He was curious how the butterfly was going to manage to get through this small hole, therefore, he sat and watched the butterfly as it struggled to force its body through this small hole.
After a few hours it appeared that the butterfly couldn’t do more and it was still struggling with the small hole. So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. Butterfly was now free from the cocoon but instead of a beautiful and strong butterfly the man saw that it had a swollen body and small wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly and he expected that the wings would spread and expand enough to be able to support the body and it would fly.
He waited but much to his surprise that never happened. The butterfly never flies; it will spend the rest of its life crawling around. With a swollen body and shrivelled wings, it will never be able to fly.
The man in his haste to help did not understand that the struggle for the butterfly to get through the small hole was the way of forcing the fluid from its body into its wings so as it would be ready for flight once it found its freedom from the cocoon. It was the process of being a beautiful and strong butterfly flying from flower to flower with its beautiful and colourful wings.
“Sometimes you ask for strengths and you get difficulties. But difficulties make you strong.”
That story stays with me, and as I wrote before, it makes me realize that it is related to what I am doing with my teams or clients. When I’m leading and coaching, I always think about it. For me, coaching is not to dive in and drive the person into the solution. It’s not just to know the job and provide advice on how he will perform the job, it’s more than that.
It’s about challenging him and instead of giving him the gift of solving his problem as soon as possible, to ask questions in order to make him think about his problem, explore the situation by himself and finally to figure out the right path. But the most important thing for me as a coach is to have patience while waiting whilst in fact people struggle to find their own solution. I prefer to give them the gift of a beautiful and strong butterfly than the temporary feeling of freedom from the cocoon.
“Sometimes giving favours and showing the easy way people cannot see the opportunities.”
The main point of leadership and coaching is to feed the mind of people so when we give advice and share our experiences to give them the tools, so as to think differently and take actions.
Coaching is not about having the job done, it’s not about expertise but it’s about facilitating the learning process, encouraging, challenging and preparing people to realize their potential, just like our story … to be ready and strong enough to fly alone!
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If we as leader allowed our people to go through without any obstacles, most likely they would not be as strong as they could have been. And unfortunately, they would never fly.