Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Talking about training

It is interesting to observe different people as they recognize that something has made a difference in their lives in ways they cannot entirely explain. We often watch this unfold over months (and even years) as people integrate the effects of coaching and training and decide what they will tell other people about their experience. At first, most people are excited about what they are discovering about themselves and about communication.

Afterwards, people evaluate what they are willing to discuss in their personal and professional lives. Is it a good thing to develop new awareness of unconscious processes? If it is a good thing, is it something to be shared, or something to be guarded as an edge?

It is both a marketing issue (for companies like ours) and an ethical issue (for us and for our clients). While we share with them a belief that progress can be ecological and ethical, we also understand that new learning is a risk, and learning in a way that sits outside academic convention is a bigger risk. The easiest way to deal with such a risk is to integrate the learnings so that they can rest just outside awareness. Consciously, one can revert to convention; unconsciously, one can reap the rewards of enhanced access to complicated patterns in information and communication.

This seems often to be the choice of people who have gained the most from conventional wisdom and conventional career paths. They are quick to point to corporate culture as a reason to avoid difference in thinking or behaviour: the differences they do experience they attribute to their own characters (we all attribute more to our unique characters than is likely to be true) or relegate to unconscious process (if you are focused on what to do next, you simply do not notice that you thought differently ten minutes ago).

People, on the other hand, who have experienced the limits of convention tend to be able to hold on to more conscious awareness of growth and difference. They notice that they have changed, and are able to talk about those changes in ways that invite other people to step into a different kind of learning. As they spend more time in their own skins (and less time in conventionally defined roles), they risk less by acknowledging that they have made new connections. They are the people who refer their friends and coworkers for training or coaching.

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