I was having a conversation the other day with my brother about some brilliant kids in his district who were heading down a path of destruction. You see, these kids have grown up in a small town where communal ties are typically strong, strong among parents, educators, friends, coaches and political leaders alike.
Then I got to thinking about my own small community. I was thinking about the times where I had reached crossroads and had to make a decision of what path I wanted to go down. Whether it’s in 4th, 6th, 8th or 12th grade, every kid is faced with an assortment of tough decisions to make.
I would say I reached my moment of ‘real’ in 8th grade. I was struggling in class due to being a ‘class clown’ and had been kicked out of two classes. It was not looking good and my potential was being wasted. It was at that point where I had the most ‘real’ conversation of my life. The conversation was with the High School Principal, a man I barely knew.
How could a man that I had barely known have such a life changing impact on my life? There were certainly others in the community who cared about me in a deep meaningful way. My friends, coaches, the lady at the grocery store, and certainly my family cared about me. Why would their words of concern and encouragement not resonate with me as well? Was it because I was just receiving advice? Was it because I wasn’t listening? Or was it because I wasn’t ‘mining’ for my own clarity and understanding?
At Fierce we provide a model called ‘Coaching Conversations’. This is a model that teaches an individual how to dive deep into a conversation in a meaningful way to surface and address issues critical to the success of individuals and organizations. We should not be ‘water skiing’ through our conversations we should be ‘scuba diving’ into them. It’s amazing what can be found the deeper you go.
Too many times in our lives we have ‘surface level’ conversations. The results of such conversations are missed conversations. Missed conversations are ‘failed’ conversations. You can go your entire life growing up in a community without ever truly ‘scuba diving’ into a conversation with someone.
The Principal I had never really known understood how important it was for me to have clarity, how important it was to provide the impetus for change, and how important it was to allow me to dig deeper for my own understanding. He understood what Daniel Kahneman proved years after in 2002 when winning the Nobel Prize for Economics. Daniel Kahneman is a Princeton psychologist whose studies proved that humans make decisions first for emotional reasons and second for rational reasons. This backs up our belief at Fierce Inc. that the most valuable currency one can have is ‘relationship’, the ability to connect with others.
I am forever thankful that the High School Principal didn’t forget to bring an extra set of scuba gear that day, because I certainly didn’t bring my own.