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The Carousel Horse

My first client said, “Life Coach, what’s that? Do I need somebody to tell me I have a life?

Al works as a handyman and grounds keeper. He’s an artist. The guy has more creative talent in his little finger than I have in my whole body.

He showed me a beautifully carved carousel horse in his workshop. It was exquisite, and so close to completion.  It needed painting and it needed a tail. Commissioned a year ago, all that needed to happen was for the tail to be finished and attached, the horse to be boxed up and shipped.

Doing these actions would make Al a successful carver. Meanwhile when he wasn’t working he was hanging around the house, watching television, avoiding his workshop, and avoiding his art. “I’m flatter than piss on a plate,” he said.

Al hired me as a coach and chose to focus on the excitement of being a powerful creative force! Coaching is action oriented. Al saw that his first action was to finish carving the tail and get it attached to the horse. He decided that he could do this in two weeks.

Al’s creative force was ignited. I was impressed by his standards of perfection, his eye for detail and the pride he took in his work. He had beautiful pen and ink drawings in his apartment and he courageously decided to display two of them in his favorite coffee shop. Al sold those two drawings as he was getting out of his truck in the parking lot of the coffee shop.

Within a month the horse stood proudly with its creator ready to join a carousel, ready to be out in the world, ready for a child to ride a dream. I love this story because it’s so visual and we all have our horse’s tails; the one action that once taken will propel us forward in our life.

What made Al a financially successful carver? Simply getting into his workshop and carving. It wasn’t about whether Al could carve or not, it wasn’t about his talent or creativity, it was about choosing a more interesting path to walk.

This leads to a bigger question:  What is preventing us from becoming all we came here to be?

Marianne Williamson’s quote, used by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural address after being released from prison, answers this question for me.  It reads: 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”

The next line in the quote is the one we look at in coaching:

“Actually, who are you not to be?”

It takes courage. It takes support and a step by step approach to taking actions, not random actions, but authentic actions, like the horses tail.

Professional Coach, Writer & Speaker in Salem, Oregon.