Speaking from Experience

Pausing, Thinking and Learning

No sooner had we shook hands when the young man asked, “So tell me, with all your years of experience coaching leaders, what’s the one recommendation you make more often than any other?”

I paused before answering, a practice I highly recommend with clients. If I ask it of them, I had better be operating by the same principle. In fact, that moment of reflection proved to be the precise answer to his question:

“Slow down long enough to think.”

Several illustrations flashed to mind: the client who needed to stop and deliberately turn off his Blackberry by 6:30 nightly to bring balance to his life; the woman who needed to remember to leave her desk occasionally to connect face-to-face with her people rather than electronically; a third client who needed to pause and form his thoughts coherently before speaking in order to improve his clarity and others’ perception of him; and a fourth who needed to consciously delegate to develop his staff, even though he could complete the tasks faster in the short term by doing them himself.

I had only just met this new client, but in our initial exchange one thing was already apparent: he came equipped with a desire to learn, and he was already slowing down long enough to think. That presence of mind is essential to any successful coaching partnership and foundational to any new coaching solution.

From the very outset of our time together, I was confident he would go far.