Think of a sandwich. The bulk of the cost covers what is in-between the bread. It is also what differentiates us in the ordering line. Sometimes the same sandwich will be ordered with different specs – hold the mayo, add extra onions etc. Again, the middle is where the value and identity of the sandwich is defined and the bread holds the middle together for ease of consumption. Of course the bread has its importance: it adds to the presentation, flavor, and is the vehicle for eating the middle. The bread is a critical guide of the middle of the sandwich for its application – in this case, consumption. Coaching works much the same way: the bread represents two sessions and the middle represents the time in-between the two sessions. Often it is here – the middle portion of the coaching sandwich – where the character and quality of the coaching sandwich are defined.
It is therefore incumbent upon us as coaches to convey the importance of the time between sessions to our coachees and sponsors. Yes, they are paying for the sessions (the bread). What they are also getting in the bargain is in the middle: reflection, review, homework, application, discovery, and above all – change. The true success of coaching includes the middle. This also drives home the importance of the time between sessions. Let us remember and engage our coachees in considering how much more they gain in the middle. Seeing the coaching relationship as the sessions aloneis oversimplifying the true value of coaching and a disservice to everyone involved in the coaching relationship. As a coach, find a way to highlight the value of the middle time because in actuality, the coachees have the coaching sessions (the bread) to hold their focus and strategize application for progress toward their goal (the middle) throughout the coaching engagement and after too.
Another thought: the ‘nourishment’ they receive from their sandwich is determined by what they choose to put in the middle. The middle truly makes the difference.