This post shared from Leadership Coaching faculty member Sue McLeod. See more from Sue on her blog at suemcleodcoaching.com.
Presence is one of the fundamental skills of coaching. This ability to tune-into and be fully present with our client during a coaching conversation creates trust and intimacy, and signals to the client that we are listening, attentive and ready to meet them where they are.
Can you be fully present with another person, notice them with all your senses, speak to them in the present tense about what you experience without interpretation? Can you stay with them in the now without wanting to move to another time or place?
I think coaches are good at this. We practice being present during our coach training, we’ve experienced the benefits of the deep connections we create, and others tell us that we are great listeners. But I’ve heard from coaches that their attention can wander when clients talk too much; that their habit of taking notes means they are not 100% with their client; and when their “problem solver” gets activated that connection can disappear in a heartbeat. I, too, struggle sometimes with maintaining my coaching presence, so I’ve been playing with Haiku.
The instructions for writing Haiku are simple.
- Find a place in nature and stay there for 30 minutes
- Notice with all your senses
- Write 15 syllables about what you notice
- Write in the present tense
- Write only what you experience – do not include your interpretations, judgments, or add metaphor, create simile, or refer to things that are not there.
Simple, but not easy.
Can you do it? Can you observe a single place in nature with all your senses for 30 minutes? Can you put into words only what you can sense, using only the present tense?
I can do it when I really focus and am intentional. When I begin, I notice that my brain likes to create simile and metaphor. My body likes to be moving, not sitting still. My spirit likes to be creating, not observing. “That waterfall sounds like an orchestra!”, “I could write a blog post about trying to write Haiku!”, “I wish I had my camera to take a photo of these trees.”, “I can’t wait to tell others about this beautiful place I’ve found.” or “I’ve seen enough here; it’s time to move on.”
These thoughts go through my head, until I settle myself down and remind myself to observe.
Buttercups move in the breeze.
Catbird jumps from branch to ground and back again.
Sky is blue. Grass is green…and darker green in the shade…and tan where the field has been mown in straight. Parallel lines.
The sun creates warmth on the back of my neck.
I hear children laughing in the distance. I hear birds chirping close in.
A soft breeze cools my cheek.
A church bell rings.
Here’s what emerged:
Soft breeze cools my cheek
Buttercups vibrate and sway
and, yes, it’s in the form of a Haiku.
Now, I won’t win any awards or accolades for my poetry, but that’s not the point. I’m satisfied with the experience; reminding myself that I can push aside the distractions, stay present, and find the essence of the moment.
Can you Haiku?