A story about Coaching and about horses

with help from Milton Erickson

Every time, someone asks me about Coaching, I know I am supposed to have the perfect short and clear answer for them. And most of the time I do, but I would really like to say so much more! And one great way that you can explain things to people, is by telling them a story.  So here is a great story by Milton Erickson, one of the founding fathers of Solution-oriented Coaching:

One afternoon, as Milton and the children were playing in the barnyard, a strange horse, large, lively and red, trotted down the driveway, past the children, and started drinking in the water trough. The children were astounded. Milton, who was the oldest, decided to try a daredevil feat. Climbing gently up the water trough beside the horse, he eased himself down onto the horse’s back. The horse seemed briefly surprised and then continued to drink. When the horse finished drinking, Milton pulled on its thick red mane and, using his knees, urged it to move. Following his guide, the horse trotted back up the driveway. At the top of the lane, the horse hesitated and Milton waited. Finally, the horse chose a direction and Milton urged him forward.

Four hours later and in a totally different area of the valley, a sunburned farmer looked up from his task to see Milton and the horse coming down his driveway. He shouted out with enthusiasm, “So this is how the horse comes back!”  To Milton he said, “How did you know where to bring him?”

Milton answered, “I didn’t know the way. The horse knew the way. I simply kept his attention on the road.”

In solution-oriented Coaching, we don’t start with the idea that our client is somehow broken and needs to be fixed. We believe that every person has the resources to find solutions for their specific situation if they take the time to figure out the most important questions. And it is these questions that a Coach is the expert for! Your Coach is on your side to go about the exploration of possible solutions in a structured and meaningful way and to help you keep focussed on the goals you have set for yourself.