On trusting figures of authority
Back in high school, I remember once, when I had spelled the word “spoon” in French (cuillère) in an unusual way: “cuiller”. I had discovered earlier that the word had two spellings.
My Spanish teacher corrected my spelling as if it was a mistake. This left me with doubts. Back in the day, we didn’t have smartphones to instantly check this kind of information. So I waited till the evening, and verified in the dictionary to found out that both spellings were correct. That’s when I started to discover that figures of authority and presumably higher knowledge aren’t always right, and I started to believe that it could be a good thing to trust myself more…
[The bottom-line is that There is no spoon. But that’s another story…]
Over the years, you start to learn to trust your own experience.
In which areas are you overly relying on “experts” and other figures of authority?
Where would you need to trust yourself more?
On focusing on the basics
During the training I participated in to receive my Integral Associate Coach certification, we engaged in peer-coaching. At one point in the training, I was being coached by a senior consultant who was adding this coach training to his toolbox. As he was coaching me, I noticed that there were some points he was missing, as per the guidelines we had been given. I tried to help him by staying in my role as a client, but letting him know about some questions he could ask me about.
Suddenly, the trainer who was leading the workshop arrived from the side and told me:
“No coaching the coach. Stick to your role.”
It wasn’t the first time this happened to me.
A few years earlier, as I was receiving military training in the French Army, I was progressing on a path in the woods with two of my comrades. We were practicing the art of positioning ourselves, observation and covering angles to spot any potential (imaginary) threats. At one point, I got out of the way and did a specific tactical move, and positioned myself a few meters further to the right than where I should have been, if I had followed the instructions given to us.
I had seen that move in a documentary on special forces, which enables a soldier to open their angle of vision and get a better sight should there be any enemy.
I heard the voice of the instructor:
“Simon, qu’est-ce que tu fous !?”
[“Simon, what the heck are you doing !?”]
“Je fais une ouverture d’angle ! ”
“ I’m doing an angle opening. ”
He said, in his harsh voice:
“On s’en fout de ton ouverture d’angle ! Retourne à ta place ! ”
“We don’t give a f*** about your angle opening! Get back to your spot!”
For overachievers, and people with high awareness (and situational intelligence), it can be hard to stick to the rules and the guidelines. But sometimes, it’s what helps us the most.
What are situations where you are overdoing things?
How does that help you?
How does that hold you back/get you in trouble?
What got you in trouble yesterday will help you today
The good news is: years later, coaching the coach is one of my assets. I get to help coaches and colleagues to see what they cannot see, discover their blind spots, and improve as coaches.
I am also grateful for the instructors, who, time and again, reminded me that doing less is more. Focusing simply on the task at hand, and doing it the best I can is helpful.
As the zen attitude proposes:
When you eat, eat.
When you sit, sit.
When you sleep, sleep.
What are the insights that you got from this article?
How do they help you?
What will you do about them?