"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught." – Winston Churchill
Have you ever had someone decide to teach you a thing or two? How did it go? Do responses like: I tuned-out, argued back, or pretended to listen, come to mind?
Have you ever tried to teach someone else a thing or two? How did it go? Did those same responses rise up again from your pupil?
I like Churchill's quote because he was "ready to learn." That's a hungry many of us have. We want answers, solutions, and ideas.
Churchill also knew that he did not "like being taught." Most of us do not, especially when the teaching is about something we value personally, politically, religiously, or culturally.
Too often, when we begin teach someone, we fail to notice that they have left us. Yes, they may be nodding their head in agreement agreement and attentiveness, but what they really want is for us to stop giving them our own great solutions. Deep down they want to understand their own thinking, possible solutions, and clear choices.
The challenge is create a safe space for learning. Lecturing, telling, and instructing often blocks that.
Most of us really do not need lots of new information. We do better to get insight and revelation on what we already have stored up inside.
Solomon's ancient proverb reads, "The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out." (Proverbs 20: 5)
Great coaching secretly discovers the "deep water" concerns and thoughts inside the CEO, supervisor, spouse, staff member, friend, or within ourselves. In my coaching work I've observed that "the purposes of a person's heart are deep waters …" and I love seeing that insightful questions and safe listening "draws them out."
I've invested in coaching for myself over the years. The benefits for me of having a coach and being trained are:
- I can set my own goals. I choose what to work on and what I hope to get from the session at the beginning. My coach helps get me where I want to go.
- The drawing out work is done for me. My coach requests great questions that help me to discover clear answers and action steps to take.
- Coaching makes space for me to define ideas that have been floating around inside. When I talk it through I gain clarity.
- My coach does not condemn. I do not get in trouble. I do get asked good questions to help me explore.
- The organizing is done for me too. The coach's job is to watch the clock and move us to the output. That frees me relax and express my thoughts!
- I leave with strong action steps, and, knowing that I'll talk with my coach again about those steps at the next session, I am motivated. Action steps are much easier to slough off when no one is watching. As one professional leadership coach observed, "I could coach myself, but I invest in getting trained because I find I get my goals accomplished about three times faster that way!" I agree.
- Best of all, I have more hope than ever that I will actually do the things I'm called to do, designed to do, and dream of doing.