Caterpillar to Butterfly

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Every time I see clients struggling or wrestling with their challenges, it always reminds me the following story:

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole. Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily but it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch it, expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge and expand enough to support the body, Neither happened! In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around. It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand: The restricting cocoon and the struggle required by the butterfly to get through the opening was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings so that it would be ready for flight once that was achieved.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us. We will not be as strong as we could have been and we would never fly.

- Author Unknown

In the cocoon, it may appear that clients are stuck, but it is also where ideas percolating and the transformation taking place. When the struggle is necessary, we need to wait and trust the process unfold on its own.

What coaches can help clients with: (except slitting the cocoon open for them)

  • Holding the vision of butterfly for clients.
  • Nurturing and guiding the inner caterpillar self.
  • Finding ways to break old patterns of stuck-ness.
  • Providing the space and encouragement when clients begin to cocoon.
  • Celebrate with clients the butterfly they have become.

[Coaching Questions]

  • Who are you becoming?
  • What’s holding you back?
  • In what areas of your life are you feeling stuck?
  • What is the key to unleashing your greatness?
  • What’s no longer serving the new you?
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