It happens with nearly every client, usually around the second or third month, but then throughout the process.
I was speaking the other day with a client in the c-suite of a major health care chain. Part of what we’ve worked on are personal social and emotional skills. At that level of an organization of that size with a mission that includes saving lives, your co-workers are passionate and dedicated. Deep, internal motivations drive them.
To work effectively, it helps to share mutually who you are, which means sharing vulnerabilities. That’s how you have each other’s back. How you can take risks, knowing your team will support you. How you can trust when someone does something you don’t expect or understand in the moment, they’re working for the team and its mission.
But the value he shared with me didn’t come from the office. He told me how he applied the personal social and emotional skills we worked on for the office at home, with his daughter. He said she’d been increasingly closed with him. Before, he would have written the distance off as her being a teenager. Instead, he invited her to a conversation where he shared some things motivating him, taking responsibility for his shortcomings. He shared in a way we’d practiced with his co-workers.
His daughter opened up back to him. The relationship opened up again. I think he couldn’t have imagined that outcome before. Now I think he’ll never go back.
School doesn’t social and emotional skills, at least not the overwhelming majority of them. You can’t learn them filling out bubble forms of standardized tests, reading and writing papers, or learning facts. They come through practice, making mistakes, allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Once I learned them, I never want to go back to how I was before learning them. Once I learned to coach and teach them, I knew I wanted to share.
I love helping clients reach their professional potential, but nothing compares to a relationship with a spouse or child opening up in ways they didn’t know were possible, but can see they can continually improve.
I’m putting an image of coach John Wooden with Kareem Abdul-Jabar. My NYU students will know why, since they’ve read Kareem’s book about their 50-year relationship, their mutual growth, their intimacy, their vulnerabilities, and how anyone can learn to develop such closeness, mutual understanding, and mutual support.
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