There’s an activity in the beginning of ACI’s Coaching Agile Teams class called Explain/Explore where each person writes a one or two words on an index card that describes his core being. You explain your phrase to someone else in the class and continue to mingle in this fashion for a few minutes. As an assistant, I found myself “playing in” during the activity, and I wrote down a word that others have used to describe me. It’s a quality that is true for me but I often hide it.
Since I joined the activity a little late, I didn’t get much chance to explain my word—it quickly passed into others’ hands as we were told to swap cards. The card I received in return was “adventurous.” What? I’m not a rock climber or a skydiver or anything like that. I gave it some thought and found where it is true: I am an adventurous learner.
Normally when I throw myself into learning, I read books and blogs and anything I can get my hands on. Then I think and think and think about what I’ve read and what it means. I might talk about it briefly with close friends. The learning becomes part of my toolbox, and I use it when I need it. I imagine it’s boring for those on the outside looking in, but it feels vigorous to me.
At my last CTI class, the instructors asked for a volunteer to be a client in a coaching demo. I raised my hand slowly. Then I realized no one else was volunteering. I was about to have my process coached in front of the class—what was I thinking?? We had seen a demo of process coaching once before, and we all remembered its intensity. Clients can become messy in process coaching. Emotional highs and lows were explored in no more than 15 minutes.
I went to the front of the room and sat down. I listened, I looked, I trusted. Think feel trust talk look listen trust talk feel trust talk. I spoke the hidden quality. It was throughout the coaching. It was in me. I said that I couldn’t tell who smiled first—him or me. He called it the Co-Active.
I had put myself out there in a big way for the sake of learning, and it created an incredibly safe environment for the rest of the class. I struggled as I practiced the new skills, and I kept trying. Slowly I improved. Learning to be a better coach has been much more like learning to swing dance than learning agile or scrum. I think that’s why I like it so much.