Most of us would say that we love learning, but do we?
Deep, embedded learning - shifting enough so that behavior is changed - can feel very confronting, and usually occurs in a live, “dynamic learning” experience.
“Observational learning” (online learning/conference speakers/videos etc) is much safer, and if the learning is entertaining, at a good pace, and informative, it can be very enjoyable. As much as it has its place, it is just a superficial layer of learning.
When combined with an experiential, dynamic component, real impact can occur.
So why do so many of us FEAR this more dynamic kind of learning?
Perhaps we had experiences in our past where we felt embarrassed and humiliated?
Perhaps we were never taught how to manage that pounding heartbeat?
Whatever the reason, many of us have created a comfort zone so large that it excludes the risk of experience and vulnerability required for deep learning.
And this fear doesn’t really escape any of us … regardless of our position - I have witnessed Board Members & CEO's across to casual teenage employees, and myself included, experience this.
Most of us tend to get that rush of adrenaline (from fear) when we are asked a question we do not know the answer to, especially in front of others, and especially with our peers. The blood drains from our head and we can experience a number of neurobiological responses.
Being in the process of deep learning is not fun - but having someone who can help us navigate those uncertain moments with empathy and care, can make learning much more safe and inspiring. I'm sure we've all had that other rush of "I've got it!" The neurons light up, and it's party time in our brain! 🎉
And that is why insightful coaching skills should be the pre-requisite for every person who influences another.
Oh wait ... that's all of us! 😉
So how can we help may learning easier on those we influence? This is a particularly important question for people in leadership and management positions.
It has always been my belief that the most solid foundation we can have as a Manager or Leader, or anyone who influences another, is to be an insightful coach. THAT is the key to helping others be open to learning. And it isn’t as simple as learning a “process” and doing a Q & A session.
It requires the giving up of certainty, and surrendering into the dance of curiosity.
It requires great ego maturity, and the vulnerability to be the learner as well, whilst in the process of being the coach. Think of an experienced surfer, doing tandem with a beginner. It's a serious balancing act supported by self-awareness and empathy.
Often the immature ego takes over and can present itself as the fear to be perfect and the need to, “Get it right!”; or as over confidence and the need to, “Be right!”; or as insecurity and doubt and the questioning of, “Am I right?”.
Coaching is not always a planned session, and the most astute leaders are those that can identify the potential coaching moments as they arise.
Powerful coaching also occurs when a number of factors align, and when the coach can:
a) Have a deep understanding, and more importantly, experience, of the subject matter - think social media gurus who look 12, but are “teaching” life advice and wisdom
b) Have the ability to be their own Humble Observer whilst in the coaching process - many coaches become drunk on the “feel good” factor, thinking they are the “giver of knowledge”, and fail to be astutely aware of the learner’s experience
c) Be cognizant of the neurobiology between themselves and the learner - this awareness, & the management of, can be the greatest determinant of success during the coaching process
The best support we can give ourselves, and those who will learn from us, in life is to become a capable, creative coach as early as possible.