I tried paddle boarding for the first time last year. And I loved it! I admit it wasn’t easy at first. I fell off within the first few minutes. My legs felt wobbly for quite a while—it really takes core strength to stay upright. And it was a windy day so I didn’t move very far.
Whatever the challenge, I decided paddle boarding was something I wanted to master and I would just go with the flow. I would be a newbie, a learner, and enjoy the process. It turned out to be so much fun I’m planning on buying my own board this year.
How does this relate to executive coaching? Developing into an exceptional leadership also requires newbie status. This isn’t always simple for my clients who are experts in their fields. Being a learner means not being the best. It means being on the way.
Here are some tips for enjoying newbie status.
- Admit to being a learner. You will be amazed how much pressure this takes off of you and how relaxed you will be as you develop self-awareness and try new skills.
- Be willing to unlearn. Marshall Goldsmith, coaching expert and author, wrote a well-known book on this topic, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” You need to take a look at what assumptions and behaviors you hold tightly so you can decide which ones you are willing to give up to be the leader you want to be.
- Be open to feedback. I have some clients who rush to the negative comments in 360-degree feedback so they can change. Others don’t want to look at all. As a self-identified learner, you can start somewhere in the middle.
- Accept that coaching is a process, not a transaction. Most of my clients come in with a set of goals. Sometimes they achieve those goals; sometimes they toss them out along the way and pick others. You never really know what the full outcome will be until you’re actually on the road.
- Enjoy the experience. Coaching gives you a confidential thought partner to discuss your ideas, feelings, and concerns with. It’s hard to find anyone who will listen to you for more than an hour and not tell you his or her own problems! Take advantage of the time and your coach’s expertise.