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The Elephant In The Room: Study In Lieu of Life


I got the idea for this post as I sat in yet another certification for something. Don’t get me wrong – I believe in development and getting as much training as possible. While I am a nerd first, I also know that my preparedness benefits clients. However, as I sat in this latest session a nagging thought occurred to me: “Why am I doing this again?” I am aware of my top saboteurs: "the high achiever" and (clears throat) "the avoider." With these two opposing poles in mind, I learned something about my top three reasons for taking classes or studying things: 1. There is something I need to know that I don’t know. 2. I am curious about something and want to follow where curiosity leads. 3. I am avoiding an action because in my mind, "I don't know enough yet." This third reason was my issue; it is a fear that can keep me in books and classes, but not in life. My tool of avoidance could be excessive studying. What might yours be?

Are you "studying" a situation at work in lieu of addressing the problem directly? This type of study can take the form of meetings, committees and 'think tanks' to examine an issue from all angles. While we are examining the issue, our teams operate at a surface level of performance due to 'analysis-paralysis'. Messages are transmitted: we're not solving the problem, we're studying it. Practices that sabotage the success of the team become common, and the culture becomes one of "wait and contemplate" rather than "risk and innovate."

The way for me to overcome this issue is to partner up my knowledge nerd/explorer with my high achiever. This way if something doesn’t “go the way I want it to”, I learn why and get to enjoy the journey. Perhaps your organization can look for ways to pair up the risk-taking high achievers with the more conservative "students". How might your organization benefit from knowing what to do, and courageously doing it? Don't study too long. Michele Aikens is Lead Coach at ClearSight Coaching & Consulting, Inc., and author of "Consider The Possibilities: Pursuing What Matters Most".

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