It doesn’t have to be right, it just has to be theirs

Kirsten Clacey Avatar

In a recent call with a good friend and coach, Joanne Perold, she used the phrase, It doesn’t have to be right, it just has to be theirs. And it resonated instantly. Because what is right?

Most of our work is in places where we are not best positioned to answer the question of, “What does someone need to learn?”.

It is our work to help people in the nuance of their day-to-day to answer this question. Even when we may want to impart knowledge, what people take away is intricately intertwined with who they are and where they are.

We must attempt to meet them there.

This might mean that a person takes only a few points, one idea, one inspiring question. Maybe they take something entirely unexpected. That’s ok! In fact, it’s more than ok because it means that they’ve taken something that they can use.

The world is already whole. The challenge lies in coming to understand the ways in which this is true.

William Isaacs

Moving beyond theory to creativity

If we’re too attached to teaching theory we miss the opportunity to move beyond it into the space of creativity, of integration.

Objectively defining what we think is right narrows the range of possibilities and creates unnecessary pressure in a system. A system that we often don’t have to live with.

Consider the pressure of receiving a training certification and returning to work with the need to implement the theory. How often do these solutions fit? What of our readiness to use them? And of our system to receive them? 

Planning an agenda of learning without knowing who is going to be there, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how they interact, prevents surprises and prevents learning. The teacher’s art is to connect, in real time, the living bodies of the students with the living body of knowledge.

Stephen Nachmanovitch

Rather than asking “How do we help people to know X?”, the questions become:

  • How can we create space for people to better understand their context?
  • How do we facilitate connections to what they already know?
  • And a potential measurement question – How will we know if we’re attuning to the client’s/participants’ needs?


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