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Tom, a middle-aged CEO, is experiencing some tough times in his business. Changes in economic climate and competitors are leaving him and his team unsure about the validity of their strategy, so he attends an executive strategy workshop.
Andrea, a mother of two young children, has the chance to hear a talented female speaker, not too much older than herself, talk about a topic she is passionate about. In that moment she knows she wants to be a speaker too. She is crystal clear about this, even though she has no idea how to make it happen.
Tony is an excited four-year-old who heads outside on the first warm spring afternoon ready to play with the other neighborhood kids. The only problem is that none of them want to play. They're all zooming around on their bikes. And Tony can't ride . . . yet.
Tom, Andrea and Tony share something very important. They're all living in a magical moment.
That magical moment could also be known as "the teachable moment."
The teachable moment is a time where situation, setting and desire come together to create people who really want to learn something, really need to learn something andare really open to the new ideas and skills.
It doesn't matter if the desire comes from something potentially pleasurable (like Tony's situation) or something painful or hard (like Tom's); whatever the reason, this confluence of factors leads to willing learners.
These moments truly are magical.
And whether you are thinking about them for yourself or trying to see them in others so that you can be a more effective teacher, coach, leader and parent, these teachable moments offer a tremendous opportunity.
Here are some ways to take advantage of these opportunities.
Look for them
After reading this far, I'm guessing you can think of several times you've experienced this in your life. The good news is that you don't have to just wait for them; you can proactively look for them. When you begin to look, more will show up in your life. You will meet just the right person to help at just the right time. You will get the perfect experience to help you see a need for growth and learning.
Looking for them is important, but no more so than noticing when they occur! Recognize the situation when it occurs - how do you feel? What are you thinking? It's hard to personally take advantage of the teachable moments in your life unless you notice them.
When you think of these times in your life you are usually very motivated by the desire to learn, improve, grow or solve a problem. Since these are the things that in some way describe the teachable moment, it is important to recognize that it's a moment - it's not a teachable week or month. Because of that, to capture the magic of the moment, you must take action! Sign up for the course, apply the feedback, try the idea; whatever your moment inspires, do it! Every minute that passes as a passive observant is a moment that keeps you from taking advantage of it.
Notice when you aren't there
Sometimes you won't be open and ready to learn something new. Maybe too many things are changing and you are overwhelmed. Maybe you don't feel ready. Maybe you don't believe the new information you are receiving. Whatever the reason, there are times when you aren't ready to learn something new. When you know you are in this mental space, it's best to acknowledge it and perhaps try to understand why "now isn't the best time."
When coaching or giving others feedback
All of these steps are true when you're trying to teach or coach someone else. Become a look out or spy - begin spying for teachable moments. Because when those you coach are in that moment, they are much more likely to succeed in creating change. Ask yourself:
These questions will help you diagnose a teachable moment, and when you coach during these times you will have greatest success.
©2008, The Kevin Eikenberry Group. All Rights Reserved
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