How Sculpting is like Coaching


by Don Smith

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I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

-Michelangelo, famous Italian sculptor

Coaching, managing, or mentoring is much like carving a statue. As a coach, your job is not so much as to tell someone what to do as it is to reveal the beauty which is already there.

How coaching is like sculpting - Michelangelo's Angle Statue
Angel by Michelangelo
Photo by James Steakley – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

You come up with a vision with your client, then chip by chip, you begin removing everything that is not part of the beauty that you know lies under the surface. At first, huge chunks fall off as you wield a chisel and sledgehammer, and the general outline comes into view rapidly. A word of warning: tread carefully here; a careless stroke can lead to a lot of unnecessary repairs later.

Then you switch to smaller and smaller refinements, and the work slows down. You make a suggestion here, take the rasp to that rough area there, add a tiny detail there. Just as a sculptor polishes the marble, the coach constantly provides feedback to wear down the rough edges, and the masterpiece, which was always part of the stone, emerges.

Subtraction Rather Than Addition Is Key for Both Coaching & Sculpting

Many people get this wrong. They believe that adding things to their lives is what will make them happy. We add more and more distractions to our already packed lives, thinking that each new milestone may make us happy. We look for more followers, more fancy toys, more money, more prestige, more, more, more.

Often though, what truly makes us happy is the opposite. Sometimes we need someone to come along and help get rid of all the extra junk which surrounds us to reveal the beauty hidden within.

Like a sculptor, that's the real job of a coach. To unlock that which is already there.

What do you need to remove from your life to release YOUR inner beauty?

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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