Mentoring, Coaching, Learning – its a 2 way street


I read an article today on the 7 lessons we can learn from kids. (I’ve included a synopsis below as well as a link to the full article.)

It made me think.aaeaaqaaaaaaaarwaaaajdq5yta1ngrjltliyzktngu0mi1imthmltjimdflzwzjntgwoa

How often do we think that someone needs some coaching, a mentor, or some further training and see it as a one way process – i.e. have some experience, knowledge, learning bestowed on them from a mightier or wise being?

I have done a good deal of coaching and mentoring in lots of different ways and domains over the years. One thing that I’m constantly reminded of is the old adage that the best way to learn is to teach.

I remember at one company we introduced tablets to all sales staff. We had also implemented a drive to bring more younger people into the company and had “buddied” the younger people up with more experienced colleagues. It was thrilling to watch the experienced people help the newer people grow. However that was expected. What was more thrilling was to see the younger people help the more experienced folk think differently and actually use the tablet for demos, communication, fun! Not just turn it on. But really use it. A 2 way street.

As the First Grade wicket-keeper for the Northern District Cricket Club in the Sydney Grade competition, I used to spend a lot of my time helping young keepers from the area develop their skills. I didn’t just do it because I had a responsibility to do it. I did it because in watching the younger keepers train, I was learning from them and focusing on the basics as well. Trying to actually see the stitches on a cricket ball is not just a nice trick, its also the most effective way to ensure you are watching the ball which is, after all, the most important step in catching it consistently, right? Again, a 2 way street.

As a member of the Business Council of Australia’s inaugural C-suite initiative a few years back, 10 CEOs from the BCA volunteered to mentor woman from other BCA companies. It was designed to drive real focus on the diversity agenda in Australia. I can assure you that I got more out of that program than my mentoree did (after all, she had a dud mentor!). Despite having the most amazing mum, 5 wonderful sisters, a visionary wife, and a stunningly talented daughter (ok and a handsome brother and an even more handsome son), I was constantly reminded that men need to learn from women when it comes to the way we think, the definition of importance, and the way to handle decisions and people. Another 2-way street.

So the article on what we can learn from children resonated with me big time. Simple and refreshing lessons that we can learn from children.

But do we actually learn from these lessons?

7 lessons you can learn from kids that will make you a more successful adult
Sometimes it’s ok to act like a child.

If you arrived at your office tomorrow wearing “Frozen”-themed footie pyjamas, you’d likely get some bewildered stares, and might even get sent home to change.

But there are certain times when it’s OK — even wise — to act like a child.
Kids often know better than grown-ups how to learn quickly and form meaningful relationships.

Read on to find out what your past self can teach your present one.

  1. It’s OK to ask for help.
    “When you’re a kid, your entire life depends on the support and the help of your parents.
  2. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable will help you make friends.
    Because kids are generally more willing to self-disclose than adults (in any environment), they form close relationships quickly.
  3. It’s important to acknowledge your emotions.
    “We bottle up our emotions because we don’t want others to think badly of us,”
  4. You don’t know everything.
    “With the accumulation of educational degrees and more passing time we often get the feeling that we have the answer to everything,”
  5. You can try new experiences before you’re fully prepared.
    Kids don’t wait until science suggests they’re ready to remove the training wheels on their bike — they just hop on and see what happens.
  6. There’s a whole world out there to explore.
    “Go for a walk with a kid and do the same with [an] adult … use the same route. You will be surprised at the different things you end up noticing and explaining about when you are with [a] kid. Age tends to make us oblivious to nature.”
  7. Unfamiliar people and ideas aren’t scary.
    As we grow we let our experiences cloud our innermost desire to explore and be curious of things that are totally alien to our minds.



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