Mind The Gap – #1

October 31, 2011 2 comments Uncategorised

The train pulls in…the tannoy message booms out,
“Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge!”
People get off…people get on…The train pulls out.
Its a process that’s taking place at every station along the journey.

One of the things I’ve encountered in all my activities this autumn is that processes of learning and change are best left “in progress” and at the unconscious level – rather like leaving a kettle to boil in its own time, or a laptop to boot up in its own time.

“OK – so how do I know if I’ve learned or changed something? By Testing it?” Is often one of the responses I get.

Evaluation, judgement is going on all around us and it is very difficult not to get drawn into what it is, what it means, and what it does both for and to us – directly and indirectly.

The things is – Educators, trainers and coaches are always looking for the positive information on the feedback loop, not just for the good of their pupils or clients – but also for themselves. Its part of their job satisfaction, or its one of the ongoing boxes they are required to tick in their job, or it is somehow linked to their perceived quality as a coach or trainer. Winning things, in a sporting context for sure, is a sure pathway to being deemed as a “good coach”.

The key about ‘testing’ is to make it an integral part of the learning process, rather than the end goal of that process.
One of my mathematics teachers (admittedly years ago) would put a problem on the board for us to work through and when we’d completed it he’d work through its stages backwards to see where each of us matched his workings, or where we went wrong. Curiously though, by doing it back-to-front, answer-to-question, we all got the processes so much better. And since maths is all about processes, we got an inside-out understanding of those processes. For this particular teacher (the only one I ever had who could and would teach this way), the “testing” was an integral part of the learning.

I was chatting last evening to a guy who I first coached around 15 years ago. He is now interested in getting on the coaching ladder, “However,” he said, “I feel a bit selfish because I only want to coach those who are good or who are showing potential.”
“Oh they ALL show potential,” I replied.
“Oh yea I know THAT,” he said, “but you know what I mean.”
“I think I do,” I added, “and its in all our coaching natures to feel that way inclined. However, there’s as much satisfaction to be gained with whoever you work with, regardless of age and ability. The keys are (a) that THEY want to change, learn, get better, (b) they are doing it for themselves and enjoy what they are doing, (c) they have the freedom to do it at their own pace.”
I don’t think I put him off wanting to enrol for some coach education, and I know that, if he allows it, his perception of coaching is already taking on a much broader base.

One of my tenets as a coach is around the whole area of results, both for individuals and teams. For me, a result is not so much their winning a contest against someone else – but is more in the area of winning the contest against themselves.
Our biggest competitor is ourself – and those that become succesful performers have defeated (and continue to defeat) the distractive parts of themselves that get in the way for many, many others.

This doesn’t make them superhuman and the rest of us mere mortals. It just means that they’ve grasped the key to easy learning, accelerated learning, learning that works compared to learning that doesn’t work.
And that key? Its allowing ourselves to engage the unconscious in this learning or change process and getting our thoughts well and truly out of the way of that.

“Mind The Gap between the Train of Thought and the Platform’s Edge!”

So does the next station of life start at the Platform’s Edge? And is our Mind the Gap, or is the Gap a danger, or is it a distraction?