Space – (Definitely NOT the final frontier for learning!)
Yesterday I attended an interesting conference on Critical Leadership. In just a short space of time we touched on many topics which challenge us as leaders. One of the themes centred on how we keep formal learning going in our day-to-day jobs once we return from the buzz of workshops. This is a topic very close to my heart.
Four points stick in my mind as crucial for continued learning:
– We need to open spaces for conversation
– We need to listen and empower
– We need to foster constant curiosity
– We need to enable conversations
If I could have created a word cloud from the speakers yesterday morning, I think that SPACE would have featured in the centre in huge letters. It’s something that we just don’t really have in our busy lives, busy jobs and busy careers. Yet how can we see what is happening if we don’t make a space to understand what is around us? How can we start to get these four points into action if we don’t have ‘space’?
Another phrase which would have being pretty obvious in the word cloud would have been CRITICAL FRIEND. (And underneath that I would have posted ‘constructive challenge).
This is all great metaphorical chat, but what do I mean in practical terms? OK, please stay with me on this…..
Creating a SPACE, means we can give valuable time to reflection.
Reflection is an increasingly well accepted and understood ‘tool’ for deep learning. Taking the time to really think about our experiences means that we can gain new and useful perspectives. When we reflect, we can create some structure for our thought processes, use positive questioning to get deeper understanding and see the small but powerful changes that accumulate to lead to our success.
How often do you get to the end of a working day and feel that you have achieved nothing? I think most of us have been there at some time, but even on those days, if you took just ten minutes out (sitting in the car before you drive home, walking the dog, cleaning the goldfish bowl – whatever…..) and identified the smallest thing, the tiniest positive achievement for the day, I am sure there would be something. It might not be something that you would see as directly relevant to your role, but think again. When you showed someone a quick move on the computer (that you do without even thinking about it) – that could have a lasting benefit. When you made that difficult call, but still didn’t reach the right person – at least you have started climbing that fearsome rockface. When you answered the door for someone, even if they should have done it, it gave you a moment to let the blood back into your legs after sitting for hours at the computer. If you set up the template for a new spreadsheet, but didn’t enter any data – well, it’s one thing less for tomorrow. In those mundane examples we’ve covered well-being, support and encouragement shared learning, and action just for a start! Don’t dismiss the small stuff, it just might be valuable.
So, when I sit down with you as your coach (for want of a better label!), we create SPACE.
First we set some ground rules. One of these is that we recognise that this time is your time to do with as you choose. It will not be interrupted, cancelled, driven by me, scripted, or disrespected. It is golden time, a rare oasis away from hustle and bustle. I will guide our conversation and challenge your thinking when necessary. I will hold you to account for your planned actions but most important of all, I will be facilitating your reflection and helping you to embed esoteric learning into practical actions and tools.
Go on – find your SPACE.