Coaching has many definitions. We use it commonly, often unknowingly. Below am I presenting history of Charlie, which present the quintessence of coaching. Please, have a read and get inspired.

“Charlie, the happy gardener”

Charlie was an unhappy gardener. He dedicated his whole life to cultivating his perfect garden, however, every year he discovered that he had the same, flimsy results: his flowers withered, the grass lost color and weeds spread across the entire garden and scaring the local fauna.

Depressed with another years of weak results, Charlie decided to walk along his favorite river. It was usually a calm place, where he could walk to think about his failure. That day, his attention was drawn by a wise old man sitting at the river bank. Charlie, who was not used to see someone at his lonely path, decided to meet a stranger. The wise old man turned his head and said words, which surprised Charlie: “It seems my friend that you are unhappy. Your eyes are full of sadness, you are bent, I see the sadness on your face, and your energy is low”.

Charlie was surprised at first, he only suspected to hear: “Good morning”. He was also astonished by accuracy of the wise man’s observations, which he couldn’t agree more with.

“How could you know it?”, he asked. “You don’t even know who I am”.

“You don’t need to know someone to read one’s emotions”, answered the old man. “Would you like to have a seat and talk? I would be glad to hear what you concerns are”.

Conversations with other people were usually difficult to Charlie, particularly talking to strangers. However, this time it was different. Calmness, trust and positive energy that he felt, while being around this man made him answer: “Of course”.

“What are you thinking about?”, asked the old man.

Charlie hesitated and thoroughly thought his answer through. He decided to be honest: “Basically, I am rather unhappy. For my entire life I wanted to be a good gardener and for my entire life I have not succeeded even once”.

“Would you like to change it?”, asked the wise man.

“Certainly. There’s no other thing in the world that would make me happier”, replied Charlie.

Having heard commitment in Charlie’s voice and approach, the old man told that he could help Charlie. “All you need to solve your problem is inside you. Then, if you wish for a change, I will help you start think, feel and behave like a good gardener”.

“Wonderful. How long does it take? Can I get what I want today?”

“Patience, faith and commitment are what you need to achieve success, my friend. The rest shall come with time. Today, I can help you become more aware of what you need to change, however a true, permanent changes shall come later. If you commit only today, you will come back to your old habits and nothing changes. However, if you work with me for the next months, I promise that on the next summer you will have the garden of your dreams. I can also promise you that changes, which occur during the next months, they shall stay with you for the rest of your life. What do you think?”

“Sounds great. What’s few months, when they may change your entire life?”

The old wise man continued: ”Before we start, I have to tell you one more thing. What you will learn during our joint journey has a great power. You will learn to use your strengths to make the best use of the tools that are in your garden. You will learn to cooperate with the garden and changing seasons, so that it always look beautiful. You will learn how to accept that fact that plants sometimes do not grow or look different that you wish. You will learn to draw strength from your defeats and find other ways to achieve what you desire”.

“And you can help me with all of this?”

“Yes. Now tell me, what you think of your gardening skills. What thought you have in your mind, when you think of yourself as a gardener?"

“If I have to be completely honest, I lost my faith. I no longer believe that I can be a good gardener, and honestly, I truly doubt I can ever create a garden I have been dreaming about for so long”.

“How do these thoughts influence the way you care for your garden?”

Charlie wondered. He never thought that his thoughts and actions could be connected. After a while he replied: “When I thought about it, I think that I did not make the best effort lately. I spent less and less time in the garden and I was not eager to replace broken tools. I think I did not see the point”.

During the next few months, the wise old man and Charlie met in the same place at the river bank. During each meeting, the wise old man listened and then asked Charlie stimulating, sometimes difficult questions. After each meeting, Charlie went to his garden with different goals - he sometimes had to try to change his way of thinking, however more often did he start doing his job in a different way.

Charlie began to see that more and more often, did he try new methods on his own and that he had more confidence in his ideas. He noticed that he knows more about running a garden than he suspected, which made him feel really good. He began to believe that he is a good gardener.

After a few months, Charlie achieved what he had thought was impossible. All weeds disappeared and were replaced with a wealth of beautiful flowers and plants. Grass was greener than ever before, and the local fauna filled the garden with energy and life. Spending great moments in a beautiful surroundings, which he created himself, Charlie began to think about how the wise old man helped him since the very first meeting. What is interesting, the more Charlie thought about it, the more he was ware of the fact that the old man did not give him any advices. The only advice he could remember was the suggestion of making a useful habit, which is to sit every day and wonder about what he achieved today. Then, Charlie promised himself that will always do so - not only, when the garden is beautiful and full of life, but also when it needs more attention and weeds start to appear again.

Source: Stephen Neale, Lisa Spencer – Arnell, Liz Wilson „Emotional Intelligence Coaching. Improving performance for leaders, coaches and the individual”, 2009.



Rita Kurpisz

Akredytowany Coach ICF, trener inteligencji emocjonalnej i skutecznej  komunikacji, konsultant biznesowy. Skoncentrowana na podnoszeniu efektywności osobistej liderów, posiada świeże spojrzenie na współczesny biznes, jest skuteczna i elastyczna w pracy z klientem. Jej misją jest inspirowanie ludzi do rozwoju osobistego, wsparcie w osiągnięciu satysfakcji i spełnienia w życiu prywatnym oraz na płaszczyźnie zawodowej.