The Struggle

In The Leader’s Journey, I highlighted the struggle with escalating challenges as a core driver of growth in both our fictional heroes and real-life developing leaders.

This week I was essentially doing 2nd level coaching with a client I have been working with for quite a while. One of the things we did was have a brief session where we reviewed and reflected the ideal state of a coaching / problem solving culture (thanks in large part to Gerd Aulinger and Mike Rother). We reviewed the principles of what a coach and the coaching chain is striving to achieve, and the mechanics of doing it.

Combining that review with the shop-floor 2nd level coaching, a couple of my participants commented on how much better they “got” what they were trying to do. They started to move from rote to the higher-level understanding.

I am still digesting why this week had this kind of breakthrough when we have been working on the same key things for months. Nothing we went over was new information. What was different this time around?

My thought right now is that they have been in the struggle trying to understand this stuff, and finally reached the point where the additional theory snapped things into place. I told them “if you hadn’t been struggling with this, you wouldn’t have had the insights you got this week.”

I really think that is the case. We can give people all of the answers. But I am realizing if they haven’t, first, been struggling to find those answers on their own – if they haven’t been trying hard to figure it out – then the additional information would have far less (or little) impact. It is only after they have challenged themselves that the externally supplied insights have any meaning or context.

At least that is where I am right now. Time for a couple of additional experiments.

2 Replies to “The Struggle”

  1. This is something I’ve struggled with – finding that fine line between giving people the answers and supporting them as they work to find the answers themselves.

    Your comments about their needing to struggle to find the answers themselves, to challenges themselves really clarified some things for me.


    1. Ben It is really interesting — and cool — how you phrased your comment. “This is something I’ve struggled with…” offers up another example of how you may have been open to receiving a bit more meaning from the post than a casual reader might have.

      The opposite may be someone, or a group, who passively wait to be given the solution. I suspect they are not in learning mode, and are unlikely to go beyond what they have been told to do.

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