I want to share with you some tips and tricks about how I personally have grown as a coach, and how you can grow as a coach. A lot of it just starts first with going to get some knowledge.
A strong foundation in the way of formal education.
For me, I started getting a lot of confidence when I went to a certification program, or when I took a college level course, or when I started looking at some formal learning objectives.
So, if you want to get into innovation, you might say, “What’s a good certification program around innovation?” And, boom, you just found the two day innovation games. And, “What’s something around leadership. What’s a good leadership model that I could go to?” Then boom, you just found the three day leadership circle program. This is something that’s going to help you build confidence when you get that strong foundation, that theoretical underpinning of what you want to do in the world of innovation or collaboration.
Then, once you’ve got those, the key word is structure.
The structure might be coming from the model that you’re learning, or it might come from the learning objectives, or the structure might come from a path of development that leads to a certification, or a college certificate. But structure, because then once you’ve got the structure, that gives you the underpinnings, the foundation, to begin some organic self determined informal learning.
Here the keyword is curiosity. Curiosity. Maybe you don’t want to spend that kind of money on a topic, but you want to learn about it, and you don’t want to have somebody else tell you what you’re supposed to learn on the neurology of change, which was a topic for me. What I did, is I went out and I got the top bestsellers on change. Nudge, The Power of Habit, Switch by the Heath brothers. These are great books that helped me understand on my own time, and in my own kind of curiosity, and then I sort of kind of moved along. Maybe for you, it might mean going to a conference. I know an informal learning conference that helped me a lot, was Wisdom 2.0. For you, it might be going to a conference for teachers, because you want to get really good at understanding how adult education works.
So, find some opportunities that are a little bit unstructured. Follow your curiosity. When you do that, one place you’re going to find a lot of opportunity for some informal learning out there is in the professional community. This is so important.
The keyword here is connectedness.
If you want to get good at your craft, you’ve got to get connected to others that do it outside the office. This might mean that regional local user group. You’ve got to show up and you got to hear some of those speakers, that’s informal learning, and then you’ve got to start offering to speak a little bit yourself. You’ve got some concerns you want to share with other people and hear what they say.
It could be, for me, the Project Management Institute chapter meetings. The National Speakers Association was another good group. For you, it might be going to the Better Business Bureau and finding info on how entrepreneurs get started. What is that like? But, you’re connected to a group of people that help spur, and offer encouragement. So, get out of the office and get connected in the community, and you’re going to find some great people that could eventually become collaborators and mentors. Here, this is about your deepest professional relationships. You go through life and there’s going to be one or two people that have a permanent impact on you outside of your immediate family.
These people are the ones that are going to help you grow, whether it’s professional mentors, it might be a boss. Maybe you’d had a boss that was fantastic, or maybe it was that martial arts instructor who taught you how to view the world as something that you can influence, instead of always feeling like you don’t have any control over your destiny. Or, maybe, just maybe it was when you were coaching Little League and there was a person there who had this whole idea about developing skills in people. About “you do A, and then B, and then C” and you’re like, “Wow, that was really structured, and you’re like half my age. I would love to collaborate with you on how to translate this into a professional environment.” So, go out into the community. Find your personal board of advisors.
If you haven’t found two or three people that you could cling to, go find them. And if you have, take them out for coffee. Dig deep, harvest more out of that relationship.
That’s the keyword for this.
When you have all of that, it leads to several opportunities for you to take risks with new kinds of experiences. Here, the word is diversity. When you have a professional craft as a trainer, or as a coach, or as a project leader of some kind, it helps to color outside the lines a couple of times. So, it might be that you find, for example, “I’m really good at facilitating teams of about a dozen people towards common objectives and high productivity, and especially in the entertainment industry.”
Okay, that’s great. That’s awesome. What if the team was half that size, and it was operations? Or, what if it was a team of senior leaders who didn’t do anything, but rather had to create a vision and craft a strategy for others, even hundreds of others, to follow them? Or, what if you had an opportunity like I did? You were invited to live abroad in a country that you don’t know very well, and you had to quickly relearn everything you ever assumed you knew. That is how you grow.
And so here, the key word is diversity.
Go find some diversity of experiences. Now, big pro tip here, you do not need to quit your job. You do not need to relocate your family to another country. Instead, laser in on what’s different at your current job about this assignment versus the previous assignment. Laser in on it. Be intentional about the new kind of diversity of experience the latest project is giving you.
Keep a journal. Compare the last job and the previous one before that with the current job at the same company. What kind of differences do you see? What patterns exist? That’s going to help you grow as a coach, because when you’ve got formal underpinnings and informal curiosity, you’ve got the knowledge. But then, you create the human side of that with the community, and the mentoring relationships and collaborations you get out of that. So, it’s not just knowledge, but the human side, and then it all comes together when you deep dive. When you lean in to new, strange opportunities and experiences outside of your comfort zone. Step outside of your comfort zone.
As you consider and apply each of these ideas above, imagine you are stitching together your own story and journey. Leverage what I’ve shared and enjoy walking out your own process.