A D Ackerman
Visual Superpower: Can You See What's Good?
A couple of weeks ago I was visiting with my grandchildren and their parents. We had been working hard all weekend as they made the transition from one home to another. On the last morning of my stay, I was chatting with my middle grandson, who is 7 years old.
“Grandma” he said. “I know what your superpower is: you can see everything, but you notice only what’s GOOD.”
My mind was blown. What an amazing and wonderful insight for a 7-year-old to have. And I was so happy and proud that I smiled all morning, and all through the rest of my travels home that day. I have always thought of myself as an optimist. I know I look for the best in everyone. I can almost always find something positive in a given situation. But it was so heart-warming to think that my grandson could SEE this aspect of my character.
Seeing the good reminds me of my approach to photography; I like to photograph items that have a beauty which may not always be appreciated by everyone who sees my work. I like to look at the intricacies of nature, such as spider webs and insects. In the photo above, for example, many folks might look at that snakeskin, and scream, or run away. I took joy in finding it there, alongside my driveway, right where the snake left it. I love to see the beauty of the two different sides--inside and outside that are so different in character. The outside showing what looks like a mosaic pattern of “scales” and the inside clearly demonstrating the linear nature of the snakeskin construction.
Looking at this snakeskin reminds me that what shows on the outside of a snake, or a person for that matter, may not represent the true nature of what is inside. So much of coaching requires getting past the obvious outer layers to reach the true nature of the individual we are coaching. Most individuals have built up a complex outer surface that hides the tender inside that lays just below what we can see. We have to acknowledge that in order to benefit the most from a coaching engagement, a person has to exhibit a great deal of courage as they allow the coach to breach some of their innermost secrets—often issues they have been keeping hidden for a long time, and even from themselves. To demonstrate that courage, they need to feel safe. They need to know that the coach will respect them in their quest to live their best lives and do their best work. The coach will “see everything” but will look especially for the good—for the part of them that is waiting to be discovered.
Just like the snake who obviously had to coil itself around the rungs of the fence to pull off its outer skin, the person being coached needs to have an anchor, needs to be able to lose the outer skin in a way and in a place in which they will not be harmed by a predator. They need to be protected during that vulnerable time. And that is one of the roles a great coach will play. The coach can help protect the vulnerable underbelly of the client in the trusting relationship they share together. As the coach exhibits true curiosity to learn what’s inside the client, the old skin can start to pull loose. This allows the client to do the hard work of sloughing their skin, while staying safe in the space the coach is holding for them. Then follows the creativity of client and coach together designing the best life and best work for the client.
It is such a privilege to engage with people and be their anchor while they slough their tough outer skin. It is an incredible honor to work with folks to let them create a new outer skin that shows to the world just how special they really are.
So, tell me: What do you see? Do you focus on the good or do you focus on what needs to be fixed? What would my grandson see in how you view your world? Are there times when you have helped someone to shed their outer skin? Or has someone been able to hold that space for you when you needed it? A parent, a mentor, advisor, teacher, coach, or partner? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading! I value your time and presence. Please come find me on Twitter at @CoachingADA, or on LinkedIn. Or send me an email at Alice@adackerman.com