Last summer I spent three days at a workshop that was advertised for “experienced coaches”. Even though I wanted to go to the workshop, travelling across the country to be there, I realized later that I went with the subconscious belief that I already knew all I needed to know already about how to effectively work with my clients. That belief was exposed and thrown out the window by noon of the first day. The experience was (and is still, when I reflect on it) unnerving, humbling, and difficult.
The biggest challenge for me was to let go of my own resistance to change. This resistance was grounded in my own absolute KNOWING that how I serve my clients is the right way. It was unsettling to learn that there are other (and better) ways.
As I was learning new theories and practicing new skills, I resisted. My mind wrestled with what (I thought) I knew to be true and my body tensed (I actually felt the experience as a muscle cramping – my body’s way of resisting!).
Almost a year later, I’m still in a place of “not knowing” and calming myself to have patience. I’m finding a ways to understand and use some the learning in a way to serve my clients better. I’m having some success with it, in small steps.
What are the lessons that I’ve learned about the experience that are relevant to you as a leader?
Be open to new learning. Continual learning is essential. The only way to learn and grow is to let go of what you think you know and accept and try new things. Recognizing when you are holding on to certainty is the first step in accepting new learning.
Be patient and kind with yourself. Change is hard. It doesn’t often come in a moment or even as a three day workshop. Allow what you are learning to simmer. Changes will come in their own time. I was lucky enough to realize how tough I was being on myself early in the learning event. I realized the struggle I was experiencing helped me to open up and question what I thought I knew.
Personal change is hard. Finding the beliefs that keep you from growing and developing new behaviors and skills is the key to change. And sometimes our beliefs are quite sticky – it takes a lot of the above qualities (openness and patience) to become unstuck and incorporate some of the new things you are learning.
When people ask me how the workshop went, I reply that it was one of the hardest experiences I’d ever had – and one of the best. Sometimes good things come to us from the struggle.