Sunday, December 02, 2007

We Know What We Know…Doesn’t Everybody?

I was recently reading a book summary for “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” and as I had recently read “The Tipping Point” where they talk about stickiness as well, the topic of this book intrigued me. I was fascinated by this not to promote a product, but to help me in my work laser coaching my clients through chaotic days. This concept helped me articulate a snapshot of a moment in time in such a way they’d not only see it but ‘get it’.

I just returned from Washington D.C. doing a training for The School of Shadow Coaching™. My goal was for the participants to know what I do so intricately, they would not only get it but could walk away using it in their day to day practices. The first step to get my concepts across was to ask them to park all assumptions about what they had already learned...what they already knew. There were two reasons behind this: 1) so that they wouldn't keep trying to 'fit' what I do into what they had already learned and instead look at how they could add it to what they already knew and 2) that they would all be on the same page because even though these were experienced coaches, they all didn't know what the others knew. This way they would be learning one methodology and then align it with their current ways of practicing.

To get back to the summary, something really hit home when Chip Heath and Dan Heath stated “To strip an idea down to its core, we must be masters of exclusion. We must relentlessly prioritize. Saying something short isn’t the mission — sound bites aren’t the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound. A one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning it…. Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it’s like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us.”

It then occurred to me that many people are cursed by their knowledge as they can’t fathom why others don’t see things as they do because it’s obvious, right? ‘Knowing’ becomes a filter through which ideas are shared and instructions given but if the other party has no idea of what you're talking about, there is an immediate disconnect. That was another key aspect of the training; looking at filters, both ours as coaches and our client's filters, acknowledging them and working with them.

As much as I dislike assumptions and how they get people into trouble, what would it mean if we assumed others didn’t know what we knew? If we started off with that premise, how much easier would it be to have generative dialogue and create something that not only stuck but just might be sustainable?

This was an extraordinary group, coming together from all parts of the US and Canada; seasoned, experienced coaches.... practitioners in various fields of expertise with different clientele. They all parked their assumptions and came together to learn, to grow and to work with each other to help integrate that learning so they could broaden the scope of their practices.

It was magical! But learning is magical, don't you think?

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome 117th subscriber from the US Virgin Islands!

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