You know the feeling when you don’t plan something? When you go into an activity with no preconceived notions about how it will be or whether you’ll enjoy it or not? (Stick with it–this connects to teaching) My good friend, Sarah, and I bought tickets to a concert in Copenhagen. We knew we would be there for the ECIS conference and thought we’d plan a fun evening while we were there. Neither of us really knew the performer, Tom Odell. I’d heard one of his songs and liked it, but knew nothing of his other material or whether or not he was a good performer or not. So, we went. We waited outside in the rain for over an hour with loads of girls (and started to assume that he must be a bit of a heart throb given the percentage of women in the line!). The place looked a bit dodgy from the outside, certainly nothing special.
After shuffling up to the front of the line and entering the doors to the concert hall, we were both blown away by what an amazing venue we were in. It was an old union meeting hall from 1956. It was set to be torn down but was saved and restored to become one of Europe’s most popular concert halls. It’s stunning inside, small, intimate and classy. Completely unexpected. Tom Odell’s performance matched the wonder of the hall and was equally unexpected. We went home that evening thrilled at the choice we’d made and so appreciative of taking a chance and being pleasantly surprised.
In my role as a technology coach, I work with many different teams and groups of teachers. Some groups are always ready to try something new. Other groups are a bit more resistant to change things. It’s easy to go into a meeting with preconceived ideas about how people will react, what they will be willing to try, how frustrated I might be at the end. I’m convinced that this impacts not only the outcome of the meeting but my disposition and tactics throughout the meeting as well.
I’m about 40 pages into reading The Art of Coaching Teams by Elena Aguilar. I’m loving it. I’m in the middle of the chapter, ‘Creating a Culture of Trust’. She offers some reflective questions and activities for helping team leaders develop an awareness of their way of being. Some of her pre-meeting questions are:
- Who do I want to be in this meeting?
- How do I want to show up?
- What evidence could I look for and listen for that would indicate that I was showing up as my best leader self?
- How do I want to feel during and after this meeting?
Dropping those preconceived notions and ideas is really hard. But, mentally planning for and envisioning how you want the meeting to go and how you want to be during and after the meeting can help shake off those ideas and open yourself up to being pleasantly surprised. If you are a technology coach or leader of any team, I highly recommend Elena’s book.