It took me twenty years to write this and I still struggle with the adequacy of my expression – of thoughts, feelings, decisions, openings, transformations and points of transcendence.
But I think the real reason I wanted to coach is that I really just wanted to be a father.
I think fatherhood is the highest expression of being a man – biologically, logically, poetically, artistically, financially – it is all there inside me.
To take care of people, to care for them intensely, to stay up late at night – waiting up for them – these people you claim as your dependents – a responsibility not lightly to be taken, yet delicate and complicated sufficiently to warrant a required sensitivity to complexity, nuance and flexibility in approach.
And then of course, there is the creativity – for what father could really grow into his own, without his creativity?
The creative father versus the reactive father – versus the active father – which and who was I to be?
Coaching gave me an organization of thinking to drop fatherhood into. I am a father to my clients whether I like it or not, whether I love it or not – but love it I arguably do. Coaching then could be a love and an organization of thinking for me.
A love and organization of thinking that is creative, transformative and allowing for the transcendent in all of us. A father for all that is human, good and great in all of us. A kind father who tends to a garden, allowing for the imperfections of the wilting tomato plant – to resist the urge to force change, but rather allow for healing – a strange but practical intentional practice that brings the plant back to life and then to a happy forgetting of previous troubles.
My father loved to garden. I loved watching him garden. He would sit crouched on the lawn, with his small hand held scissors, cutting each grass leaf. As a youth, I must admit some comic derision at this seemingly silly endeavor – a silly folly for a silly old man.
But I never saw my father more intent – more in the flow, enjoying every delicate cut, every incremental work of cutting that yielded finally a lawn of such beauty, that only the father – the creative father, the father that insisted on the art, rather than the science – could achieve in a lifetime.
Maybe all those years of watching my father in that tropical climate, cutting those individual grass leaves, sitting crouched – patiently cutting, grooming, coaxing, encouraging each gentle grass leaf – then standing back and enjoying the mass scale effect of his work on the big picture – the total lawn – maybe it was all of that witnessing that led me right exactly to where I am now – at the same exact age that my father was, when I first observed him in that delicate act of cutting and transformation.
Coaching and gardening may be the same exact thing – to nurture and grow a living thing to bloom and have their own opportunities. In the final effect, it is also the same thing – the plant like the human being does not necessarily think of the creative father gardener all the time after it has bloomed. Oh sure, there will be the thanks and the acknowledgements, but the human being after being coached, lives his or her own life – now on her or his terms alone, as well as it should be – for that is the course of life – to attain your own independence, your own path – and then forget your father, and become one in your own right.
A creative father’s job is to create more fathers – a collective of caring and creative fathers who can make this world a better place – one we are proud of for generations to come.