Not Trying & The Fabric Of Coaching

We’ve got this long (and still probably partial) list of reasons why people don’t try new things.

In recent weeks, i’ve gone pretty far afield around coaching. I picked out four or five threads separately and ran with each, separately. If it seemed a little incoherent to you, well, you know, join the club. Analyzing individual threads isn’t necessarily the best way to analyze a fabric. I confess to feeling a little bewildered as I wrote it. I get you might feel that way reading it.

That list of reasons, tho, is the result of me struggling to understand how several different themes, the ones I constantly harp on, are in fact deeply interwoven. I’d like to mention each of the themes and mention in a line or two how it all connects.

I offered at one point "a list of gerunds", describing (always partial) the list of activities that I use when i’m coaching day to day. They connect to the list of reasons in two ways.

First, they are quite varied exactly because the list of reasons for not trying are so varied.

Second, they are all activities with the focus of opening up the trying. I do those things because those things have led me many times to places where people who were not trying a new thing became people who were.

Those moments where the change happens? Those are related to my stumbling efforts to get at "finding yes". answers, it turns out, are relatively easy. Trying new things, any new things, are relatively hard. That theme of "finding yes" is about focusing on the hard part.

Third, and by far the most coherent of any of these, is the conversation around always-small-always-improve. The ASAI expression has two terms, and it connects on both of them to that list of reasons.

Always small because it’s easier to try things that are small than to try things that are big. Small often (not always) correlates well with easy, and easy-to-try is big plus in the try-selling business. Always improve because s great many of those reasons have to do with proof, and some have to do with faith.

Proof happens after the trial. If trying something new doesn’t actually improve things, why should we do it? Faith happens before the trial. If prior tries have improved things, one’s sense of faith that trying new things is good goes up quite a bit.

My broad mistrust for branded methods isn’t associated with any given post, but is visible by the absence of advocacy for one or another, and a certain mean-spirited tone in my occasional pot-shots at method-warriors. The methods seem, far from easing opening the world up to trying new things, to contribute in a variety of ways to actually trigger some of those most common reasons from the reason list.

They are almost uniformly "cities on a hill", large palaces made of words, located far away from here, and often sourced far above here, both factors that trigger some of those reasons. They rarely if ever provide a transition route. They are vested in having all and only their own parts present. They often fail altogether if any one element is still done "the old way". They seem also to lend themselves to misunderstanding, another factor in some of those reasons not to try the new thing. And of course, they guarantee flavor-wars, gross generalizations, and reasoning around abstractions that are 5 and 10 hierarchichal levels beyond the concrete.

So there we are. That list of reasons underlies, overlies, intertwingles, with the whole fabric of coaching as I grasp it.

There are other threads to pursue, and i’ll probably get there. (already formulating a muse on "sociotechnicality" and why it’s such an important concept.) but to be honest, I want to do some more traditionally geek stuff for a while. I need geekery like I need music, to thrive.

Thanks all for the various inputs, and for hanging in so long to read all these damned things. Feel free to poke & prod, comment, question, critique.

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