“The teacher is the needle and the disciple is the thread. One must practice ceaselessly”– Miyamoto MusashiThe Book of Five Rings
This is a lovely metaphor for coaching and consulting. The master guides the disciple, setting direction, helping to weave them into the fabric of the organization, helping them to become part of something beautiful, part of an emergent whole that is hopefully greater than the sum of its parts. However just as the needle is not part of the finished product, so too the master is not necessarily part of the organization that the disciple is now inseparable from. Eventually the master moves on. The needle finds a new thread.
As coaches, as consultants, we may become part of many organizations, but nevertheless we remain outsiders. We provide our coaching, our guidance, our direction, adapting to the organizational culture and trying to help create something great. If we are successful, we have provided the kind of guidance that helps to create the kind of great and lasting social fabric that holds great organizations together. And then we move on.