Today's Reading

INTRODUCTION
THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING AND THE ROLE OF THE COACH

Thirty-five years ago, I enrolled in my second master's degree in adult learning psychology. I had been teaching leadership and communication skills classes for two companies I worked for. People liked the classes; they gave me happy faces on my evaluation forms. Then they went back to doing what they had always done before the class.

I wasn't changing minds. People I taught may have learned facts, formulas, and good reasons for changing, but they did not make permanent leaps in their behavior.

I was hoping the graduate studies would lead me to the secret to changing people's minds and behavior. I learned a lot, but not the secret.

For years after I graduated, I continued to take workshops and read books to increase the impact of my teaching. I saw improvement, but I felt more disappointed than fulfilled.

I decided to do my own informal research. Each day, I sat with someone new at lunch in the cafeteria. I found both former class participants and managers who had sent their people to my classes. I shared my observations and asked what value they thought my training provided.

I concluded most people were not committed to permanently changing their behavior. They committed to trying new behaviors, but the shift back to doing what they had always done before came quickly. They reported small wins, such as having more patience with others and courage to speak up more often with peers and in meetings. When it came to bigger changes, they said they didn't have time to practice.

After further investigation, I determined that as soon as new behaviors felt awkward and they were afraid of being judged by others, most people reverted back to their safe behaviors, even when they knew they weren't getting the best results from their workplace interactions.
 
I didn't lose hope. There had to be something I could do that would motivate people to commit to growing even when it felt awkward or scary. I continued my research and attended workshops as often as possible to make my training programs better. Then something happened that interrupted and redirected my search.

In October 1995, I resigned from the third company I worked for. That day, a friend sent me an article she had read in Newsweek about this new phenomenon springing up in the United States called 'coaching'.

The article mentioned a coaching school. I called and after watching a coaching demonstration, I enrolled. I knew I had found what I had yearned for. The shift in the feelings of the person being coached was palpable. The client went from confusion and frustration to excitement and gratitude. When she stated what she was going to do next, her conviction was solid. Because she was a classmate in the coaching school, I was able to follow her growth. The shift she made in that session changed the view she had of herself as well as of her challenge. She never went back to her old self. Coaching had changed her life.

I had witnessed a learning technology that generated long-term behavioral change.

Not long after, I read Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence. I realized how important emotional states and reactions were to sustainable growth and how this was only a minor consideration in my education. I looked deeper into the new avenues of neuro-science that were emerging since the invention of the fMRI made it possible to track and measure brain activity. I created a training program for using emotional intelligence in leadership conversations and was quickly asked to teach my program around the world. The excitement generated in these classes prompted me to learn more.

My discoveries led me to finding a doctoral program that would support my research in neuroactivity related to learning. I realized coaching enhanced awareness, solution recognition, and commitment to act through insight creation in accessing the regions of the brain associated with creativity. I have been adapting and strengthening my coaching and training approaches ever since I was introduced to this new profession. I am passionate about continually discovering and sharing ways we work with people to learn and grow.
...

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Today's Reading

INTRODUCTION
THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING AND THE ROLE OF THE COACH

Thirty-five years ago, I enrolled in my second master's degree in adult learning psychology. I had been teaching leadership and communication skills classes for two companies I worked for. People liked the classes; they gave me happy faces on my evaluation forms. Then they went back to doing what they had always done before the class.

I wasn't changing minds. People I taught may have learned facts, formulas, and good reasons for changing, but they did not make permanent leaps in their behavior.

I was hoping the graduate studies would lead me to the secret to changing people's minds and behavior. I learned a lot, but not the secret.

For years after I graduated, I continued to take workshops and read books to increase the impact of my teaching. I saw improvement, but I felt more disappointed than fulfilled.

I decided to do my own informal research. Each day, I sat with someone new at lunch in the cafeteria. I found both former class participants and managers who had sent their people to my classes. I shared my observations and asked what value they thought my training provided.

I concluded most people were not committed to permanently changing their behavior. They committed to trying new behaviors, but the shift back to doing what they had always done before came quickly. They reported small wins, such as having more patience with others and courage to speak up more often with peers and in meetings. When it came to bigger changes, they said they didn't have time to practice.

After further investigation, I determined that as soon as new behaviors felt awkward and they were afraid of being judged by others, most people reverted back to their safe behaviors, even when they knew they weren't getting the best results from their workplace interactions.
 
I didn't lose hope. There had to be something I could do that would motivate people to commit to growing even when it felt awkward or scary. I continued my research and attended workshops as often as possible to make my training programs better. Then something happened that interrupted and redirected my search.

In October 1995, I resigned from the third company I worked for. That day, a friend sent me an article she had read in Newsweek about this new phenomenon springing up in the United States called 'coaching'.

The article mentioned a coaching school. I called and after watching a coaching demonstration, I enrolled. I knew I had found what I had yearned for. The shift in the feelings of the person being coached was palpable. The client went from confusion and frustration to excitement and gratitude. When she stated what she was going to do next, her conviction was solid. Because she was a classmate in the coaching school, I was able to follow her growth. The shift she made in that session changed the view she had of herself as well as of her challenge. She never went back to her old self. Coaching had changed her life.

I had witnessed a learning technology that generated long-term behavioral change.

Not long after, I read Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence. I realized how important emotional states and reactions were to sustainable growth and how this was only a minor consideration in my education. I looked deeper into the new avenues of neuro-science that were emerging since the invention of the fMRI made it possible to track and measure brain activity. I created a training program for using emotional intelligence in leadership conversations and was quickly asked to teach my program around the world. The excitement generated in these classes prompted me to learn more.

My discoveries led me to finding a doctoral program that would support my research in neuroactivity related to learning. I realized coaching enhanced awareness, solution recognition, and commitment to act through insight creation in accessing the regions of the brain associated with creativity. I have been adapting and strengthening my coaching and training approaches ever since I was introduced to this new profession. I am passionate about continually discovering and sharing ways we work with people to learn and grow.
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...