Michelangelo’s David

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
- Michelangelo

Once there was a master artist, who could look at a block of marble and immediately see within the slab, a beautiful sculpture. He looked for potential and saw incredible possibilities. He could envision the ‘attitude’ of the subject to be portrayed and he could envision the ‘action’ in which the piece was engaged.

Michelangelo, perhaps the most famous and talented sculptor of all time, had a gift for seeing what others could not…how to transform a rough, rigid, slab of marble into a masterpiece. His task was not simple, for he had to work in reverse, to chip away at and remove the flaws, imperfections, and jagged edges which did not contribute to the purpose of the work, to leave behind a perfect, flawless work of art. Surprisingly, when Michelangelo was interviewed after finishing his greatest sculpture, “David,” he stated that the creative process was easy, for he simply removed the parts of marble which were not David.

Artistic talent and skill like Michelangelo’s is rare in a sculptor, but his view of his craft is a metaphor for the work we do as coaches with our clients.  Clients who may have had a vision of what their ideal selves should look, think, and act like…have lost sight of this vision over time. Sometimes they have lost their purpose. Other times they have allowed life experiences, disappointments, and the grind of everyday mundane tasks, to sidetrack them from becoming their best selves—a wonderful masterpiece. Coaches, as trained, creative professionals take on the role of Michelangelo for their clients. We help clients chip away at the parts of themselves which do not contribute to their masterpiece.

What are some of the tools coaches use to help their clients chip away at those unwanted areas of their clients’ lives so that they can be transformed into a living masterpiece? A coach masterfully helps clients:

  • Envision who they are now and who they want to become through assessing a client’s strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents, and values.
  • Sharpen and Polish their existing talents and abilities so that they are visible to everyone. A coach also helps clients chip away at flaws and imperfections in their life to remove them.
  • Transform lives by helping clients brainstorm goals and action steps for carrying out their plan. Most important, a coach holds clients accountable so that they will continue to move forward to reach all of their goals. Coaches encourage their clients when they fail, and celebrate with their clients when they succeed.

[Coaching Questions]

  • When you are grounded and feeling powerful, how do you see yourself?
  • What’s your favorite picture of yourself when you feel strong and powerful?
  • Where have you avoided being powerful?
  • What’s been covered up? What would you love to uncover?
  • What talent or passion from your past have you buried and would like to uncover again?
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