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DREAM BIG. THINK SMART

I love synchronicity. And yesterday a few of my worlds collided when I received a mail from a client (and friend) around Seth Godin’s education manifesto. I love Seth Godin. I wish I had written Linchpin. I’ve recommended it to so many Clients. And now I’m going to recommend that you download and read his education manifesto @ www.stopstealingdreams.com

But first, read on and find out why I care so much ….

You see, education and coaching are pretty similar. They both involve potential. And they both involve dreams. Dreams that ignite passion, which result in skills and knowledge. Not dis-empowering, unrealistic pipe dreams, or belittling,  shameful, settling for second best dreams, but dreams that are based on possibility, opportunity, self reliance, self worth – bold dreams where the person has to push themselves to create a new reality.

3 years ago I was invited by my children’s then headmaster to give a talk on self-actualization for children. My presentation was based around the premise contained in one of Dr. Seuss’ less well known books, Diffendoofer Day. The story involves a school where the teachers make up their own rules and teach ‘stuff not taught at other schools’. One day the children have to take an impromptu, external test which could result in the closure of their beloved school if they fail.

As the story tells it :

Miss Bonkers rose “Don’t fret” she said 

‘You’ve learned the things you need

To pass that test and many more –

I’m certain you’ll succeed.

 

We’ve taught you that the earth is round

That red and white make pink,

And something else that matters more –

We’ve taught you how to think !!!

The feedback I got from this talk was interesting. In particular, one of the teachers likened it to a Psych lecture. I think she missed the point … the point was about instilling a love of learning and thinking in our children to create independent, aware, actualized, creative thinkers as opposed to obedient, rote, humanized machines.  How many schools and teachers are still missing the point ? Education is not about testing facts or pushing data, systems and processes down children’s throats – it’s about teaching higher order, creative thinking.

Why do we want to do that? So that our workforce becomes creative, engaged, innovative, solutions-focused and independent. So that we can create industries that never existed 10 years ago. So that we can self-actualize and fulfill our potential. So that we can help grow our economies. So that we can give back. So that we have the worth to dream boldy and the confidence to turn our dreams into a new reality.

Facts are facts – anyone can find facts in what is being called the ‘connection revolution’. Do we really need to spend our childhood memorizing them when we can access any fact in 0.1 seconds ? Facts are no longer a valuable currency. People like me and countless other business owners give away facts, information and literature for free. Why? Because facts on their own mean nothing. It is the interrelation, pattern detection, understanding, synthesis and innovative thinking that come from wrestling with the facts that is valuable

I am currently coaching an amazing young woman who is studying for a law degree. Yesterday she shared with me that knowing the facts was ‘not enough’. She admitted that being able to supply the required data would get her to pass – but in order to excel, to do really well, she realized that she has to interpret the facts, use them to find solutions to problems and create new thinking.

At the same time, I have been working with my children this week on the skill of essay writing. They are going to Vietnam on school camp in a couple of weeks and were required to write an essay on how Communism has shaped the identity of the Vietnamese (This, at 13 years of age – gotta love the IB programme !). And as I worked with them, I repeated one phrase over and over. “So what ?” I wanted to know what those facts meant, why they were relevant, and what new thinking they could result in. That’s called Learning.

So what does all this have to do with coaching – leadership coaching in particular ?

One of the key dimensions of leadership is being a visionary. It’s about going where no-one has gone before. Call it intelligent dreaming. It’s about seeing a new future and having the strength to take others there. Leadership is about many things, but without creativity, innovation and original thought, you’ll always be a follower. Waiting to be told what to do, rather than figuring out new things to do and new ways of doing them.

So if you’re tired of being told what to do, how to do it, and following the same process to ‘do it right each time’, maybe it’s time you started thinking.

And read the manifesto. If not yours, it could change a child’s future.

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