What is the difference between a tortoise and a Ferrari,
as far as coaching is concerned?
Sure, there are also some similarities, such as low ground clearance.
The main difference is that the behaviour of the Ferrari can be targeted controlled. I can accelerate, brake and steer it. Whoever is at the wheel sets the direction.
Anyone who has ever tried to convince their tortoise of what would be sensible to do now (in the owner’s opinion) has experienced that this is most likely to fail.
The Ferrari is a machine, a complicated machine, and can therefore be specifically influenced from the outside, and it can be steered.
The turtle is a biological system and thus a complex system that cannot be deliberately influenced from the outside; it cannot be steered.
Of course, I can also try to influence the behaviour of a turtle.
For example, I can put food in front of it or obstacles in its way. Whether the turtle reacts to this and in what way is entirely up to the turtle.
Anyone who has ever tried to confine a tortoise to a specific area (cage in the garden) can report how high the probability of success of this intervention is.
In coaching it is essential to know that clients and client systems can be high-speed but otherwise have nothing in common with a Ferrari.
In coaching, we work with highly complex biological systems that live in an equally complex social and material environment. The idea that one can intervene through coaching belongs to the world of Ferraris.
In coaching, developments come about through the coach and coachee entering into a relationship and interacting with each other. Then, like the turtle, the coachee sets the direction.
The coach’s task is to support the coachee, the system to be coached, in keeping an eye on the diversity of the problem to be worked on and the complexity of the situation in which the problem occurs.
In concrete terms, this means that the coach is responsible for ensuring that changes of perspective occur and that alternative interpretations and solutions remain in view.
As a coach, it is not his task to work towards achieving a goal that he considers the right one. That would be driving a Ferrari. Every good coachee will ensure that doesn’t work, just like any self-respecting turtle would.