Framing our clients? Coaching as an art form

What’s art – and what’s not?

I started to see coaching as an art form quite early in my practice. Even though my training was very much evidence-based and my education (especially my coach training) had been around science and philosophy, I’ve always been creative and music, art, painting and other forms of (more traditionally-recognized) creative activity had been a solid part of everyday experience.

When my coaching work began to take more space in my life and I noticed myself DJing less, moving out of the warehouse space where I could afford a large studio space to build furniture, make a mess by spray-painting on records or any other forms of physical art, I had at some point become quite concerned about the lack of creative engagement.

Until I realised that I’m basically now working with a different kind of canvas, one that’s alive and has its own mind, one that is steadily changing form and colour and which I couldn’t bend to my will the same way I could with music or painting. It was far more complex and all of a sudden it made perfect sense to me that my other creative endeavours gave way to my work with people.

Now in a recent supervision group we talked about the notion of “framing” and it I loved the idea of literally framing our clients (who arguably are a work of collaborative art). I mean putting them into a foto frame, something to look at and think: “I’ve helped create that! I facilitated this person’s journey towards becoming the person they are now.

Many artists will tell you that they cannot claim the final piece, that it is the art that wants to come out and they are merely a facilitator to support that process. I forgot who it was, but a famous sculpture once said that there’s a sculpture in every block of stone or wood, and it is their job to help it to see the light of day. I look at coaching (and any form of personal or professional development) the same way.

And who knows, maybe, some day I’ll start hanging up pictures of my clients on my wall (with their permission, of course), to showcase the beautiful, mind-blowing and inspiring art form that I/m grateful to call my profession.