Saturday, January 7, 2012

Same Music, Different Beat

In an Erickson Foundation newsletter article, Jeff Zeig described learning to play the tin whistle (the Irish Penny Whistle) after a lifetime of not playing a musical instrument. 
"This practice has been highly instructive to me and has changed my teaching style. To experience the ways a simple tune can be embellished has altered the way I understand hypnosis. Music and hypnosis have structural similarities since both are based in changing people's perspectives, states, and emotions, particularly through using innuendo."
Years ago I took tennis lessons one summer, working particularly on my backhand. A few months later I played nine holes of golf with my boss at a golf retreat in Florida where we were facilitating a leadership workshop. As we approached the first tee I joked that I'd see him at the putting green, because I tended to slice the ball and I'd be off in the rough to the right. After I'd made a couple of straight drives he said, "I thought you told me you sliced the ball." I was surprised, but didn't make a connection to the tennis lessons until I played ping-pong with friends a few weeks later and realized my game there had improved, as well.

Transfer of learning is an important concept for coaches because we only have our clients' attention for a snapshot of time before they go out into the world to either keep doing what they've always done or do something different. So their generalizations to everyday life depend on the parallels we help them draw or embed in the coaching experience itself.

The parallels can be direct, as when clients agree to practice on their own something you've experimented with together and to report back how well it works in a variety of settings. A more subtle learning transfer occurs within the nature of the coaching relationship. Several of my clients, when asked to use one word to describe their vision for 2012, have come up with words like "fun," "play," "flow," and "creativity." I see this as my call to make sure our sessions are fun, playful, creative, and in the flow.

How will your 2012 coaching sessions help clients transfer their learnings to everyday life?