I had three excellent coaching sessions this last week. Sequentially from people I have known for three months, ten years and three months, and eighteen years and three months. In their own way, each was engaging; each was inspiring; and each made me think more deeply. I am never sure how to value discussions like these…but ‘priceless’ always seems like a good starting point.
The first was Monday. I was in London for a couple of meetings and was able to arrange a personal coaching session with a colleague I have known for three months. She always asks what I would regard as success from our sessions. My answer? That I feel better when I leave than when I arrive. So far we have always achieved this goal. And Monday was no exception.
I went in knowing I was worrying about a big decision I am about to make. Is it right for me and for my family. Her reflection – trust my instincts and have faith in my family. I have tended to do OK with my big decisions so far and my family have survived and thrived…together. Instincts and faith. So much better than detail and anxiety. Sometimes we just need someone to hold a mirror up in front of us.
My second was Wednesday. I met up with a colleague I have known for ten years and three months. She has recently moved into a new career…and is doing very well. I am not in the least bit surprised but am so proud of her. We chatted about a range of topics over coffee – suggesting, encouraging and laughing.
As we spoke, I realised how much I have missed working with people every day. How much energy I get from everyone I interact with. How much I miss the colleagues I used to work with all the time. How much I need people. Her reflection was that I need a role where I work with people all the time. Where I, and they, can develop, deliver and drive forward together.
My Thursday coaching was from an unexpected source. Someone I have known for eighteen years and three months and who I have watched grow, who inspires me every day and in whom I have total faith. My wife and I had had been to my son’s school for a parents/teachers session. We were talking with my eighteen year old daughter about how interesting it was that the arts teachers appeared to know my son so much better than did the science teachers.
“That’s easy”, my daughter reflected, “at his age, arts teachers already appreciate what children care about, believe in and feel strongly about – it’s obvious in their school work, their essays and their class discussions”. “On the other hand” she added, “in science and mathematics, they just have to provide facts, details and answer questions. There’s nothing in the children’s work to tell teachers anything about them as people”.
I thought this was inspired, as well as correct, helpful and insightful. For example, when – if ever – does this situation change for scientists. When do we get opportunity or training in how to reveal ourselves, our thoughts or (dare I say it) our feelings about anything? And yet to be successful leaders or coaches…to be successful colleagues or partners…it only ever helps if we reveal ourselves. As someone once said…people need to know that you care, before they care what you know. And showing how much we care, and what we care about, is hard for scientists, not least because of how we are trained.
This week was a good week…I learned a lot.