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We Teach What We Need To Learn April 18, 2010

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in ontological coaching, Uncategorized.
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books6 by Brenda Starr

When something keeps coming up in my world I have learned to pay attention to it. The latest ‘earworm’ that has been haunting  me is the phrase, “We teach what we need to learn.” Since it’s been coming up for me, I guess it’s a good topic for today’s blog. But what does it mean?

What are you a stickler about?

My interpretation is that the things that we are sticklers about are things that we ourselves need to learn. It is also possible that we are sticklers about things that we have already learned and seen great value from the learning.

Here’s an example of my own. When I work with executive coaching clients, I often get on their cases about paying attention to time. This pertains to things like starting meetings on time, meeting your deadlines, or accurately assessing the time it will take to deliver on a promise. But as my clients would tell you, it most particularly pertains to getting to appointments on time.

I had to learn this

Why is this something I focus on? Because I had to learn it myself. I have a tendency to be a procrastinator, waiting until the last minute to meet my promises. I used to think it was just fine to be five minutes late to a meeting—everyone else was, after all. And then I met the coach from hell, I’ll call her Gloria K. (’cause that’s her name). Gloria was teaching me and my colleagues a body of work based on the work of Fernando Flores. The object of the work was to build productive relationships with other people in order to be able to produce excellent work together. (This is the work I still teach others today.)

Gloria had a no budge approach to the start time of our sessions. Woe to you if you came into learning session even 30 seconds late. Her point, which I later came to appreciate was that in being late to a meeting you are failing to meet a promise that you have made to others. In addition, you are wasting valuable minutes of time for everyone involved. Multiply this by 10 meetings a week (a modest number in many organizations) and you can see how much time is wasted by a seemingly unimportant action. Quite simply you are robbing others of valuable minutes of their lives by being late.

I am now Timezilla

Gloria was a tough coach but she gave me many gifts, not the least of which is the ability to coach others. So now, I am Timezilla with my clients. It’s not about the time so much as it is about being judicious about managing your promises to others. So what I teach I needed to learn (and still do upon occasion).

What do you teach others?

So what things do you teach others? Are you a nut about getting a project finished once you’ve started it? Are you always counseling others to be patient? Are you critical of people who disregard the feelings of others? Do people who are negative drive you up a wall?

These are all examples of ‘things you are teaching.’ Take a look at the lessons you ‘teach’ others. And then take a look at yourself. Is the lesson something you have already mastered and strongly value? Or is the lesson something you have yet to learn?

Isn’t self-exploration grand?

–Amara

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