I am writing this article in Costa Rica as the first step of my wife Jo’s transition from full time work to retirement. As a cliff edger (fulltime to what do I do next?), time to think, whilst enjoying herself in a totally different environment is ideal, as she takes her time and small steps into how she will fill her time fruitfully in the future.
Costa Rica is either ‘very wet’ or ‘wet’, even in the supposed ‘dry’ season, which we have experienced to the full. (Donald Trump has a lot to answer for, as the snow in Texas is meant to have affected Costa Rica!) I suppose having rain and cloud forests should give you a good idea of what the weather is going to be like! The vegetation wouldn’t be as lush without the rain; it literally fighting itself to get to the sunlight and fuses together, growing at a tremendous rate.
Walking through a rain forest without a guide is like us in everyday life, albeit relaxing and letting us take stock, but how much do we miss? A guide knows what to look for, what trees/leaves the sloth likes to eat, where the iguanas like to sunbathe, and the habitats of the different birds. The guide slowed us down, gave incredible focus and helped us see things we would never have seen without them. A guide can be like a coach. For me this is a good analogy for coaching as without a coach, we could miss so much owing to the lack of reflection (rushing around in our day to day lives, doing what we have always done) and a lack of focus on how we can act differently. It does not mean we need a coach all the time, but at crucial times like retirement, change of career or when we want to change something in our lives.
On a night walk, in total darkness, except for torches which allowed us to spot birds fast asleep, tarantulas in their nests and armadillos on the prowl. The guide had different knowledge from the daytime guide and this was literally somebody guiding us when we were in the dark. This reminded me of supervision for coaches. Supervision is where any professional coach goes regularly, to see how they can improve and take any issues or things they don’t understand is happening with their coachee. With the night time guide it seemed to be so much more intricate, going into so much more detail, stripping down the layers to see what was going on in the dark.
Maybe my analogies are a symptom of delirium, owing to too many mosquito bites and too much dream filled sleep!
Funnily enough on our final day we went out on our own and managed to see sloths, racoons, lizards, butterflies galore. This may have been luck, or it may be that after getting a different perspective from our previous guides, we were able to be more effective under our own steam. Coaching, of course is meant to do this to maximise your own potential so you can be more effective/happier going forward without guidance. Coaching is not meant to be a crutch.
Whilst we were away in Costa Rica, we certainly had the time to recharge our batteries; pause, rest, take stock and prepare ourselves for 2018. Have you?