This is an old Chinese Taoist story that I already posted in a blog a couple of years ago.. It is a wonderful metaphor and I repeat it today because I want to use it as an example of how stories can be used in a Coaching Context.
Once upon a time there was a village that was experiencing a terrible, prolonged drought. The elders of the village had heard of a Rainmaker, a man who could induce the rains to come. So they sent word that they wanted this man to come to help them.
When finally he did arrive at their village there was much rejoicing because their long collective hardship would soon be eased. They threw out the red carpet for this man. They gave him a tour of their village. They asked him, “What do you need to do your magic? Do you need a bonfire? A sacrifice? Drummers? Tell us what you need and we will provide it.”
He said, “No. Your village is very out of touch with the Tao. I only need a quiet place to stay that is outside the village, please.”
They provided him this and he moved in. The first morning he rose with the sunrise, swept the front walk of the house, gathered wood for his fire, made the fire in the hearth, prepared his tea, cleaned up after his morning meal and later went to bed within an hour of the setting sun.
The next day he rose with the sunrise, swept the front walk of the house, gathered wood for his fire, made the fire in the hearth, prepared his tea, cleaned up after his morning meal and later went to bed within an hour of the setting sun.
On the third day he again flowed with the rhythms of the day.
On the fourth day it rained.
When stories are told in a therapy context, say in a trance induction, we don’t reveal the reason we’re telling the client the story. It is for their unconscious or other-than-conscious mind to use it in its own way.
In Coaching, however, we are not acting as a therapist but as a guide. The client/coach relationship is more of a collegial one than a therapist/patient relationship. So here we can discuss the meaning of a story and help them understand it both consciously and other-than consciously.
In the case of the Rain Maker story I often pair the story with the completion of a questionnaire the great Thomas Leonard created a few years ago called the “Clean Sweep.” in this questionnaire the Coaching client looks at four distinct areas of their lives: Physical Environment, Health & Emotional Balance, Money, Relationships. There are 25 questions in each category so the client gets a good look at the balance of their lives.
Often people can be so focused on one particular area of their lives they neglect other areas without even being aware of it. The brilliance of this simple “Clean Sweep” questionnaire is that it paints a pretty clear picture of that balance.
The Rain Maker story, then, helps to illustrate why that is important. When you are living in balance and harmony with ALL areas of your life, FLOW happens naturally. As Stephen Gilligan likes to say, “Life flows through you – unless it doesn’t.”