This morning I went out to my garage to work out, and I discovered that two wrens were in the loft attic over the garage. There’s a short staircase from the garage to the attic through a large opening in the attic floor; I supposed that they had flown in and up.
They were flitting around, chirping, clearly not wanting to be there. I opened the big floor-to-ceiling garage door, thinking they would find their way out. I kept an eye out for flying bodies while I exercised, but no one swooped by. I could hear them above me, chattering to each other.
Back in the house an hour later, I pondered my choices. Leave the garage door open? Our neighborhood has bears, and we saw four meandering down the street earlier this week, so that wasn’t really a viable option. Get one of the kids to go up in the attic with me to shoo them towards the opening in the floor? We went through something like this at Christmas time, and while it made for a funny video, it wasn’t all that efficient. Hmmm.
Back to the attic. I looked across the boxes on the floor and saw the birds hopping around. In front of them was a small window, maybe 2 feet by 3 feet. I pulled my hoodie up and went to the window. One heave, one it was up. I retreated back to the staircase to watch.
One bird hopped close, and seemed to be looking outside. After some hesitation, it zoomed out of the window. A moment later, I heard it calling back to its buddy, still inside. It, too, hopped closer, then flew straight outside. My heart lifted. I hadn’t expected it at all, but I was so happy to be able to give these birds exactly what they needed at that moment.
It made me think about our role as coaches. We often say that we “meet our clients where they are.” I never had a clearer picture of that than today. The birds could have gotten out through the giant open door, but they couldn’t see it. They didn’t know it was there. I could have kept insisting that they find it, and wondering why they couldn’t, and being frustrated that they wouldn’t take advantage of the way out that I provided.
Instead I was able to find a way that worked for them, that they could see and understand and use. I met the birds where they were.