I spent a day floating on a river in Arizona this past weekend. As our group floated along in tubes tied together, listening to music, and watching the kids play in the water, I got to thinking.
Water is fascinating. It is patient. Water took ages to carve the Grand Canyon. It never gave up on the task. What was a small crack at one point, after tremendous patience and stick-to-it-iveness we now have an amazing marvel of nature.
Water is adaptable. It forms to the container in which it is placed. Put it in a tall cylindrical glass, and it forms that shape. Pour it into a flat, rectangular bowl and it will take on that shape. It never forces things to it's shape, it adapts to its container.
Water can be calming, demanding, strong, and convincing. It put us all in a state of relaxation as we floated along this weekend. There were times the current demanded we go a certain direction. We trusted it because it flowed relentlessly and always finds the best path. A few times I was steering our group away from the weeds at the shore and the water was strong. It was not some pushover. I was thoroughly convinced of its power to transform the landscape.
Water is also welcoming and encouraging in this calm state. We wanted to be in the water and we trusted it to carry us to our destination. We were encouraged by its calm, patient, firm flow and knew it would not fail to deliver.
It can change moods based on the environment. When water needs to be forceful, it will find a way. When water needs to pause at an obstacle and slow to a trickle, it will do so, ultimately succeeding but allowing for the disruption. It does not stiffen or sharpen at resistance, it merely bends and flows and continues.
Finally, water always finds a way to get to its destination. And to carry its passengers there as well. Sometimes it leads hastily and forcefully, knowing the best route. Other times it will meander patiently, allowing for the route to "appear". It knows to adapt, to bend, to be strong, to be patient, and to be relentless in this pursuit of the destination. No matter what happens on the path, water will find its destination and water will most certainly transform the landscape in which it flows.
This is how we should coach. Like water.
Ever flowing. Ever conscious of the fact we are carrying our passengers to a destination and knowing that we must adapt to our containers, be kind and firm when needed, bend and flow around obstacles, demand and convince at times, and remain patient. If we coach like water we transform the entire landscape, not just a few kids. We transform them all and carry them all to their destination.