What do you mean when you say “learning edge”? He is frowning at me slightly, possibly mildly irritated, possibly very curious but definitely wanting to know.
I have a moment where I feel the tug of “Coaches Should Not” – the received wisdom that suggests I ought not to direct, disclose or offer in my theories. The training that suggested I ask the questions – You grapple with the answers….
An I/You binary model which I think I once bought into.
In this model, I am glacial and impervious – I ask good insightful questions and stay out of the way when the answers come. None of my business. The learning is all yours. I am here to open up and allow and enable….
I evade a little. “Why are you asking?” – well.. it’s ALMOST a coaching question..
Seemingly I talk about edges. Learning edges. The bits of ourselves that become revealed on the line between that which is comfortable and known and that which is not. The place we sometimes seek and sometimes shy from.
He has never really thought about edges before. He has spent much of his successful career ploughing forth, regardless of fear or frenzy, absorbing and retaining and experiencing as he went along. Well within his capabilities; the notion of reaching an edge was… kind of unthinkable.
But now Lifestuff is happening and there are changes afoot that take away certainty…and the solid ground once ploughed with ease is suddenly clogged and heavy. The mechanisms for propelling forward are less effective in this landscape… He recognises it might be time to fathom out a new way – but suddenly he is at a loss….
So I talk to him about edges. I draw Senningers Zone model badly in my book and map out zones – of comfort, of discomfort, of panic. We talk about what happens at the edge of comfort and discomfort – what holds us safe and knowing, what pushes us out to the unknown. How do we equip ourselves, mentally, physically, emotionally, socially for such times? We talk about bravery, arrogance, fear and reluctance – cloggy heavy at times. We talk about joy and energy, creativity and laughter – ploughing with a light touch.
I invite him to begin to pay attention to his experience – can he begin to tell when he is moving toward his edge? What does he hold back from, or intellectualise away? Does he have an edge or is there some other way he experiences this learning place?
Here we are not coaching a process, or seeking a clever absorption of facts.. this is processing experience… using that to rewire ploughing mechanisms to cope with a multitude of field conditions; Learning to feel and sense as well as think…
And as I leave, I reflect that this is a field well-ploughed for me. That the notion of a Learning Edge is no longer on my Learning Edge, but brought deep into the philosophy of my practice. It occurs to me that my learning edges are in other fields – as yet unploughed… and I wonder what mechanisms I will need to cut that ground.