This post is written by Dr. Pat Gill Webber, Chief Content Officer, E-Coach Associates, Inc.
No matter how challenging the situation, whether weeping or cheering, it’s always the right time for coaching, for learning, and for becoming a “skilled sailor.”
Learning from Tough Experiences
This was a big learning week for me. And, as you know if you read our recent blog — You can’t experience too much coaching any more than too much learning — we are believers that no day should go by without learning or coaching –either oneself or another. In my case, I finally “got” (that is LEARNED) a reality I just couldn’t face before. And while it might have been a little or a lot late, it was extremely important that I finally did accept some harsh and brutal reality about someone in my family. I cried. It was sad.
People shared that they were sorry they didn’t tell me more but thought I couldn’t “hear it.” There is nothing I can do to change the situation or the person now, but I can close some doors, limit connection, keep my values and ideals intact, and learn from the experience.
Emotion and learning often go hand and hand. Some say our deepest and most transformative learning experiences happen because of difficult, painful situations in our lives. These situations can push us to a higher level of understanding of life and what makes us truly happy and healthier — mentally and physically.
You might have thought at some point that if you didn’t work for a certain employer your life would have been less prestigious or happy. Then you leave and find it just wasn’t so. That’s deep learning. Challenging times present great learning opportunities. It’s why I love Roosevelt’s quote:
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
Opportunities for learning work in “happy situations” too.
There were many times in the careers of Serena Williams and Roger Federer when they simply could not have imagined being fulfilled, happy or at peace if they were not playing competitive tennis. Yet they both cried happy tears at their final matches. There was joy in knowing that while tennis had been the center of their lives for a long time, it would not be forgotten; their lives could and would be full even when not competing on center court.
Both had been guided by amazing tennis coaches and now knew it was time to move in a different direction by coaching themselves and being coached by others who know what creates success in other spheres. From my recent reading they are already demonstrating they are doing just that and are open to new and exciting life changes.
It’s nice to feel in the company of Serena and Roger. Now all three of us are moving forward with new perspectives gained through some amazing (or in my case awful) change, new awareness, acceptance of new options, and the knowledge that there is always more, different, and good to come with renewed focus, effort, and commitment. I put myself in the company of Serena and Roger because while I’m not a “celebrity” it reminds me that I owe it to myself to keep moving forward. We all need this reminder from time to time.
The ability to move forward — as described here — can be “a luxury.” Some, who may find themselves in situations of war or other extreme disasters, may likely be too focused on survival to consider what they are experiencing “in the moment” as a learning or coaching opportunity.
Ultimately those who survive may have the luxury when looking back of seeing just how much they learned and can now help others by offering comfort and advice to those in similar situations.
Help Yourself / Help Others
When someone asks you for advice on how to handle a tough situation, be open to providing it. It may be a traumatic time or just another day. Whatever the situation, when asked, be ready to act. If you are the one in need of help and don’t have someone around to help, coach yourself. Seek out organizations or resources like on demand coaching help that provide insights, ask relevant questions, or provides useful direction to help you start exploring and moving forward.
The book Self as Coach / Self as Leader by Pamela McLean makes the critical and simultaneously challenging point that we become better coaches as we become more aware, open, and integrated as people. Changing and learning isn’t just for all those struggling with life/business challenges, it is for anyone who wants to be their best as individual contributors, team members, or leaders, and who recognize that coaching is a powerful way to support “self” and others in need. The subtitle of the book — developing the best in you to the develop the best in others — is powerful and explored in a multitude of ways.
When we begin to know with certainty that learning, and coaching and the habits associated with these actions are for all times — like being healthy and strong — the ability to continuously improve is both a luxury and necessity to working and living in complex times. These focused actions are “forever goals” not short-term fixes when things fall apart.
As you consider your commitment to self-development consider these questions:
Are you more aware than usual that continuous learning AND is important now?
- If yes, how are you making more time for this need to learn more?
- What will you do to sustain and reinforce this feeling?
Are you finding that some things you thought “would never change” or “never happen” have in fact happened?
- How is this affecting you?
- Are you seeing it as a chance to learn or are you becoming more frightened and disconnected because of changes around you?
Note: No one will know what you are answering so be honest and use these insights to help you grow and evolve.
Are there people you are noticing that are using these times to reflect, learn and be open to change and others who are acting fearfully?
- Are you noticing how the openness and willingness to learn is helping people not just cope but change in ways to be more effective?
- How can you help others be less fearful?
Might you have an opportunity to learn more things now?
- If you are working virtually is this helping or limiting your ability to learn more in new ways?
- If you’re feeling limited with respect to what steps can you take to reverse this feeling?
Can you think of a time in your past when you benefited from more learning and COACHING?
- Why was that?
- How can that behavior be replicated now?