Four Modes of Coaching Magic: Co-Create Mode: It's Magic!

Dec 16, 2022


There’s magic in Co-Creating! Let me tell you more about it and share an example from my experience parenting three young men. Co-creating happens when we come up with a solution together. It's not one-sided from either party. Using the Mastermind Effect, we collaborate and co-create, learning that two heads are always better than one. When we co-create solutions, we pull from the knowledge of both people. Co-creating can be done in a group as well. 

When my son Brandon was 17, he spent his life’s savings on a used Ford Mustang, which he cherished. Although I had said one thousand times, “Drive slowly, don’t wreck, stay off your cell phone, don’t text and drive, turn down your music!” and one hundred other things parents tell teenage drivers, two weeks into ownership of this dream car, he totaled it. Sadness, anger, grief and even depression followed. This happens all the time in life! Though we’ve been told what to do, what to expect, what the consequences of an action could be, somehow, we inevitably find ourselves in situations we didn’t intend. We end up with regret and often, someone has the opportunity to tell us, “I told you so!” What’s happening? Why is it that many of us need to learn things “the hard way”? Let’s dissect Brandon’s experience as it applies to what we’ve already explored in The Thinking Advantage:

  • Brandon experienced Teaching during his drivers ed courses.
  • When we entered Coaching Mode (behind-the-wheel time with mom):
    • I Observed that he wasn’t taking the safety part of driving seriously. I observed that he acted as if he were invincible.
    • I chose to Respond by “freaking out.” I didn’t even ask him to think about his own response. I Reacted with my instincts to protect my child. There was no inquiry, no space for thinking, just lots of hinting, telling, and reminding! I did all the talking. Did he do any listening? Maybe his ears heard the sound of my voice, but the understanding that I thought I was communicating didn’t click. 
    • I didn’t Co-create with him. I took on the role of dictator. I mandated, I threatened, I tried to instill fear by reminding him of consequences. 
    • Once I knew he was physically OK after the accident, I told him to call the insurance company. They Rescued him by sending him a check for the car. 
    • Because he was so angry about the incident, I took the approach of avoidance, letting him have his space, working it out on his own. I offered lots of compassion and told myself he had learned his lesson. Fear of bringing up a painful experience had me avoiding the topic and getting his mind on something else. I did not have the courage to invite him to Return and Reflect. We simply moved on. 

Why is it so hard to really learn from just being told what to do? Because being told what to do causes us to skip the thinking. Doing what we are told takes very little effort. We are simply reacting. This pattern started in childhood, when most of the talking came from one direction: the adults. We started learning when we mimicked the adults’ sounds and movements as infants. Later as children, we followed their directions. (Or some of us did! 😊) As we grew into teenagers, we had our own ideas of how the world should be and often dabbled in the skill of debate with adults in authority. It was in this stage that we tried on new opinions, used bigger words, and became influenceable. Rarely to this point had we had the experience of taking new-found knowledge and applying it in a rational way. Therefore, teenagers and young adults often need to learn “the hard way” by having reality smack them in the face! Some of us learn lessons the hard way and register that as, “If I just do what I’m told, next time, it won’t be painful.” On the surface, this is beautiful and desirable. Yet, as we grow into adults and hold onto the mindset of just following the rules, we don’t create the space for thinking. 

When people weigh in, they buy in.

The management principle of “people must weigh in before they buy in” means that if you really want someone to be committed to a goal or solution, ask them what they think. Co-create Mode is all about getting people’s ideas and opinions and helping them feel heard. When they feel heard, reasonable people can usually get behind the idea that is eventually chosen, even if it’s not their own.

Caution: If we don’t ask them to speak about what’s on their mind, they’ll do it anyway, just in less productive environments. One way people do this is by internally ruminating on what they would have done, which leads to lack of commitment to the ultimate solution. The other way that I see people weighing in in non-productive ways is by talking to peers about an issue around the “water cooler,” or even in a gossipy, secretive way. The third way they’ll make sure they are heard is when the project has obstacles or fails, they will make an “I never thought that would work anyway” type of comment. The act of co-creation actually prevents additional issues and adds fuel for making sure everyone is committed to the eventual outcome. 

Next time, we’ll talk about the wake-up call I experienced about my own coaching.

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