The Forgotten Art of Coaching
"I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” ~Albert Einstein
Being born brings in its basket the need to learn things, up until the time we breathe our last. Every living being must keep on learning or perish. Learning comes in various forms as we all know: it can either be fun or a chore, learning under duress or learning out of curiosity, learning to grow or learning as a result of loss, insult or injury, learning to help others grow or learning to stay above the crowds. Learning to compete and win or learning to stay up-to-date and excel are certain other necessities why we look for coaching.
Fast learners get to enjoy a better reputation than the slower ones. Willing learners gain more out of their lessons than the unwilling ones. They also get to keep their lessons in memory far longer than the others. No wonder, they see more advancement in life and enjoy an edge in their career.
Curious learners gain insights most others tend to miss out on. Those keen to learn for the sake of career-growth are generally better risk-takers. To learn more in order to help others is one of the noblest gestures we, as human beings, can ever undertake. Of course, we must first start with sharing the knowledge that we already possess before jumping headlong into newer territories.
Inquisitive learners are one of the most gifted individuals that help their coaches, teachers, and preachers explore further. Their imagination flies higher than that of the teachers fulfilling their duty. These learners challenge their guides’ knowledge and coax them into a process of continued learning.
At times, we come across some desperate teachers that cannot take the never-ending interruption of those under their ward. Instead of satisfying the curiosity of their trainees, students, and/or disciples, they focus their attention on cramming them with what they believe is more important. This is where a cautionary approach is much in order.
I remember one of my grad-school teachers once mentioning: ‘There’s never any stupid question. However, the answers could easily qualify for this banner.’ A question asked of ignorance must be based on an innate urge to gain knowledge. It is up to the one answering to interpret the question in any manner and answer in a way that will qualify it as stupid.
Albert Einstein rightly drew the line between teaching and creating the necessary conditions suitable for learning. I am sure the learned readers of this post are well aware of the age-old dictum: “You can take a horse to the water but you cannot make him drink it.” If this were true, how could we make anyone learn anything just by teaching until and unless we create the right atmosphere, the very conditions suitable for learning?
It is a pity to see a vast majority of the modern-day Coaches, Trainers and Motivational Speakers exploit the power of the Social Media with the intention of self-gratification rather than actual, sustained good of their trainees. It may look good to enter a hall full of thousands of individuals line up to pay big bucks to attend workshops, seminars and coaching sessions where the real, long-term takeaway is almost always questionable other than some instant satisfaction. The charm of the well-structured lectures only lasts until the following weekend, if at all. And then, they start looking for the next session, in the name of their favorite ‘idol.’
I can say this from personal experience, after attending more than my fair share of such sessions by some of the best-known names on the face of the earth. Majority of them have moved on from delivering real value to up-selling their captive audience on a whole new range of books, courses, retreats and one-on-one sessions running into thousands of dollars. What else do you think makes them 6, 7, 8 or even 9 figure earners year after year?
The power of Social Media has opened up a vault of prospective victims for the savvy to catch with the help of their teams of experts. The constant flow of their e-mail messages, once, twice, even three or four times a week keeps the prospects hooked to no end.
It is no wonder the common man forgets to rationally calculate the direct gain of such engagement gleaned over the last few sessions. In almost all cases, he/she is more than a willing participant in this act because of the lack of analytical thinking. We need to first see how much benefit can we get out of a specific subject slated to be addressed in there. What or how much do we remember from the last one we attended and what percentage of the same did we actually put into practice?
Coming back to the art of coaching, where do we see the intent on the part of these coaches to seek a feedback from their attendees. How many of them can honestly identify a reasonable number of their trainees that really gained long term from them? Do they know each individual that actually shows continued growth in his/her life in a quantifiable way?
Yes, there are exceptions and I fully appreciate this fact before making such a bold claim but let the truth be told: money has become one of the primary motives behind the continuing growth of coaches and trainers like mushrooms. It hurts to see so many of them in the fray just for the money.
I would like to see the Coaches focus their training on specific questions of a few keen learners in tune with their own expertise. Rather than preparing their coaching programs surrounding general topics of interest let them first float a number of questions. Let them poll the prospects on how their biggest challenges could be addressed through the intended training. Let there be an added follow-up to the coaching program.
It is my strong belief that such an exercise will go a long way in creating the most conducive environment for learning. The Coaches will be able to deliver much more intrinsic value and perhaps make more money over the longer term by proving the relevance of their own program in ways more than one.
Dear Readers, your feedback will be much appreciated…