1) If we don't ask ourselves "How could I have done better?" we don't learn, and we don't grow.
2) If, at some point, we don't STOP asking how we could have done better & simply accept our performance (& ourselves), we're trapped, paralyzed by our inability to let go and move forward.
I met with a prospective coaching client a few weeks ago, a woman who was referred to me by a former client with whom I did some particularly meaningful work. Even though I firmly believe that coaching is a highly personalized service, clients need to trust their instincts when choosing a coach, and (without a doubt) I'm not the right coach for everyone, I wanted this meeting to go well because of my relationship with my former client. In a way, I didn't want to let him down.
And the meeting with the prospective client went...fine. We had a thoughtful conversation about the issues that were leading her to consider coaching, and I appreciated her candor and her eagerness to actually have a coaching conversation rather than just talk about coaching.
But ultimately it felt that we weren't quite clicking, and although we parted very amicably, I wasn't surprised not to hear back from her. Not surprised, but a little disappointed with myself. Looking back on our conversation, I could identify several key moments when my desire to "do well" actually led me astray--a classic example of bad coaching, driven by my attachment to a "successful" outcome.
It's been useful to reflect back on that conversation and consider what I would do differently, and I've learned quite a lot as a result. But it's also been important to let go and move on. I'm still disappointed--I think I could have been a good coach to this person, although I have to defer to her judgment on the matter--but at this point further reflection would be unhealthy rumination.
I'm not suggesting it's easy to draw that line--it's damn hard, especially for a perfectionist like me. But I arrived at the tweets that led to this post after realizing that I was ruminating--and expanding on those thoughts in this post has been a helpful way to balance my desire to learn from my failures with a sense of self-acceptance.
For an overview of my self-coaching framework, see A Self-Coaching Guide for Leaders at All Levels.
For all my posts on this topic, see my Self-Coaching category.
Photo by West Point Public Affairs. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.