Teach and get taught, Coach and get coached

One way to work on your own self improvement, is to get a good student.

I’ve been working with an intern who wants to learn more about how I run my business, and it’s been a very interesting and rewarding process for me.

I’m always honest with my clients about the fact that I’m not a “certified” coach, and I’m certainly not schooled in any psychology or sociology. My coaching methods are best described as the fruit of a ton of working experience and a love of, and fascination with the study of business and all the people in it.

I coach management and leadership (with business as our playground of opportunity) because those two things are all I’ve done, consistently and passionately. I’m pretty much in love with the stuff. No surprise that my number one strength in virtually every kind of profile/assessment I’ve ever taken is FOCUS.

Working with my intern now has been a return to so many basics, and it’s been very good for me to get first hand practice again in so many of the things I coach my clients in. For example,

— how teaching is about the student, and not about you

— how to always start with Ho‘ohana and ‘Imi ola: purpose and passion, mission and vision

— how to look for the aha! moments that light up their eyes, and how to keep the light turned on

— how to make meaningful assignments, and not assign busywork, keeping work enjoyable and worthwhile

— how to give instruction that is just enough but not too much, leaving the door open for initiative and creativity

— how to not hover over someone’s progress, and have patience for the final result, letting mistakes be cool

— how to delegate well, understanding there is little accountability without ownership, full authority, and the knowledge they have your trust

— how to listen with genuine interest and with humility, and listen more than we speak

— how to mine their good ideas, and how to look deeper into the why of their early mistakes for the hints of other possibility

— how to always, always talk about why, trusting the how will get improved along the way

Boy oh boy I love this stuff.

I don’t understand how managers can ever say, “I’m glad we were able to hire, but I just don’t have the time or patience for training them!” because the entire process is such a win-win for everyone concerned.

Teach and get taught. Coach and get coached.

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  1. says

    You’ve put your finger on one of the great joys of coaching, Rosa. Carl Rogers mentioned in his classic “On Becoming a Person*” that, in the best sort of therapy, the therapist learns as much as the client. Like you, I’m not a certified coach or a psychologist. But always, I find, the more attention you pay to your client, the more they discover about themselves, and the more you learn yourself.
    Our line of work is actually a very great privilege, one that is always symbiotic. I love the “Basics” you list above although, just now, I’m working with a client, President of a company that has done well in the past, who is so profoundly depressed that just getting to “mission and vision” is taking a very great deal of patience and testing my skill in posing questions and listening. I’m sure you have a Hawaiian word for “compassion” — which I feel is another primary requirement.
    What a lucky soul your intern is!

  2. says

    Great post Rosa. Training the trainer is a great way to learn more, and should be an essential part of anyone who’s a coach, manager, or leader. Thanks for sharing the excellent insight!

  3. says

    This rings so true for me, Rosa. Coaching someone else is such a humbling reminder of the things you’ve let slide, as well as a way to force you to get things down to their “essence” so you can increase the likelihood that your student comes away with the most important elements.
    This also reminded me of your chapter on Mālama ka po`e, which I read on the plane (by the way – a hardback book has to be pretty special for me to bring it with me on a plane!)
    Mahalo, Rosa.

  4. says

    Aloha Patrick, Phil, and Dwayne, mahalo nui to all of you for adding your thoughts here.
    Patrick, you and Dwayne did pick up on the same thing: mālama is the Hawaiian value for caring, empathy, patience and compassion, all so important in remembering that teaching and coaching is about the student. When the student is the primary focus, the empathy we strive for – seeking to understand as well as conveying what we wish to in being understood – becomes our own learning. I like how you describe it as a symbiotic relationship, for I’ve always thought of that as a very healthy thing, enlarging both the emotional and intellectual capacities of those involved.
    Mahalo nui for taking MWA to London with you Dwayne, kinda cool to think of it traveling with you! I like the other points you’ve added here too: 1) about getting to the heart of the matter in our coaching (more alignment with ‘ōpala ‘ole and the streamlining and clutter-busting we’ve talked about) and 2) getting our own wake-up calls about the basics which we realize should be second nature to us.