If it ain't broke...?
Every time we go on holiday, even if only for a week, we are amazed by how much our kids grow. My mum told me about this phenomenon: kids always return from holidays doing different things, seemingly so much bigger and wiser than when we left. I start this blog sitting a few hundred meters from the pyramids of Giza, watching my kids play in an enormous pool. We’ve spent the day exploring the pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, being wowed by what truly is a thing of childhood fantasies: stories of lives lived thousands of years ago, where deception and love mingled with gods and war, and of course, lots of crispy mummies with hair and toenails intact. Heaven. I know the kids will come back from this holiday doing different things, look bigger, seem wiser, and I’m seeing how I should be doing this, too.
By the pyramids, we were invited to go down into one of the wives’ tombs: immediately our daughter was off down the narrow passage (easy for a five-year-old, but for her dad and I only doable at a crouch) yet our son stood frozen by the doorway. “No way,” he said. After a little encouragement, he held his breath and started the journey, feet slipping on the wooden slats designed to provide some sort of purchase on the steep decline. The entire descent, he worried about falling, about the darkness, about the heat. Finally, he got to the tomb, and while his sister bounced around happily, he stayed still and, frankly, was keen to return to the outside world. When we resurfaced, his sister was enthralled, thinking the whole idea of being on a dig as an archaeologist a brilliant future vocation. Our son, on the other hand, was filled with adrenaline of a different kind: he had tried something that scared him senseless, and was glad to have done so. But he was also keen to point out that the experience hadn't changed his current desire to be a zoologist when he grows up.
What’s the connection to my work? In our jobs we get comfortable: routines function smoothly, our conversations cultivate trust and support meaningful reflection, we are getting results. It works, and it works well.
So why would we want to try something new, or even change?
If we keep doing the same things all the time, how do we grow? As I watch my kids, I wonder, how am I pushing myself to explore new things and be open to trying new experiences? And maybe more importantly, how am I seeing new things all the way through (not just taking a taster) to see how they might make what I do already, better, or reinforce my belief in what I do already?
In coaching, there are so many different models to try. Before starting the Student-Centred Coaching Certificate, I wasn’t sceptical of the content or intention of the model, but I figured that what I was doing already was something that philosophically fit well with what I believed. I was also a bit concerned about how it would affect me: as we are doing the course as a team of coaches, would I feel an obligation to drop my current practices? Yet I’m quick to say that ignorance isn’t bliss, and if we want to be truly good at what we do as coaches, we need to be knowledgeable and experienced – have breadth as well as depth - and make sure we don’t live in ignorance.
As I look at my kids and think about their day, I realise that ahead of me, there are new things I will dive in to with ease, and other things that will require a little persuasion to get me on board. But I need to embrace both, because they present a win-win: they will either enhance my coaching or reinforce my practice as it stands now. In any case, I will be better because I tried something new.