Coaching A Butterfly

pianist-1149172_640In college, I study Jazz composition and performance. I was a piano player. Each semester, as you might imagine, private lessons on your instrument were mandatory. There were several excellent pianist to choose from and my first semester I selected Daniel.

Daniel was an amazing player and I would be thrilled to be as accomplished as he was at the piano. During one of my lessons I asked him about stride piano. I wanted to learn how to play in that style. “How do you do it?” I asked. Daniel’s response ” Like this” he then proceeded to show me how skilled he was at stride piano.

He never taught me how to do it, he just demonstrated how he could do it. Although I liked him and admired him as a musician, I ended up firing him as my teacher because I wasn’t learning anything.

How often have you done that with your salespeople? Yes, it might be easier in the moment to just “do it yourself” and have them observe but if you never get around to letting them try it on their own, they may never learn to do it themselves.

I found this amazing story that illustrates the point so well.

A man found a cocoon for a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared stuck.


The man decided to help the butterfly and with a pair of scissors he cut open the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. Something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man watched the butterfly expecting it to take on its correct proportions. But nothing changed.


The butterfly stayed the same. It was never able to fly. In his kindness and haste the man did not realize that the butterfly’s struggle to get through the small opening of the cocoon is nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight.


Like the sapling which grows strong from being buffeted by the wind, in life we all need to struggle sometimes to make us strong.


As you coach and teach others to sell it is helpful to recognize when they need to do things for themselves. Be there to follow up and encourage every small improvement they make and help guide them on the right path to success. We all need to struggle sometimes to get stronger.



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