Learning to run.

Learning to run.

12 years ago 0 0 1025

I was recently working with a group of top-level executives in Vienna.  My host indicated that some of the ‘characters’ in the room would not be open to learning – they ‘knew it all’.

These were highly experienced, talented individuals at the top of their game, so why should they listen to someone like me?  I shared with them the following story, which became a metaphor for my role with them:
“Many of us are parents, and we have all been babies, and all been children, have we not?  What I know about babies is the way they learn.  Have you ever seen a baby learning to walk?

They start not knowing. They only know how to crawl, and how to sit. They try to stand, then get their balance.  So often, they fall down.  What do they do?  Do they give up?  Do they listen to people saying ‘don’t try’?  What babies know is how to be open to learning.  And I wonder at what age, we as adults, forget this?  Babies will try hundreds of times until they can stand, and then they have their next hurdle – taking their first step.

And they will fall, and they will trip, but they always get up again.  And then, after much effort and many attempts, they learn to walk, and then to run.
And the world has some incredible runners – Usain Bolt can run – holding the world record for 100 meters, he covers this distance in about 9.5 seconds.
And Usain Bolt learned to run as a child, just as most children do.  So if he has learned how to run, why does he now get himself a running coach?  He already knows how to do it, does he not?

If you ask a top performer they get a coach not because they haven’t learned how.  Often it is about unlearning, forgetting bad habits, breaking the process into pieces, getting an external view, and recrafting and refining.  Sometimes it is forgetting what we have remembered and remembering  what we have forgotten.  How we did it is not how we should do it and if we can stand back and observe the parts, the process, then we can recombine and refine our process to maximise our performance.

And you are all high performers, are you not?  And you have learned how to do your work, and be highly successful.  You would not be here unless that was true.  And if you can remember to be open to learning, like you instinctively did when you were a child, then things you never thought were possible may be just that first step away.

And my role? I am your running coach.  You know how to run, but lets step back and see exactly how to hone your skills to make you elite.  It is not me who runs your race, but those who are open to refining and improving and really learning are the ones that make the final.”

The outcome:  The leaders who were identified by the host as potentially ‘closed’ became intently engaged, really challenged their beliefs and took some significant steps from the program.  They took the coaching in a positive way and really used it to enhance their possibilities.

And in the end, when you ask yourself, “should I get a coach” – I would ask the question “do you know it all, or may there be a better way?”

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