Structures, water, computers, languages and people (not necessarily in this order)

Magic happens in silence,... listening

 For half of my 44 years, I have dedicated myself to engineering, tackling challenges, analyzing them and delivering solutions. In each scenario, my goal was to develop a project that met identified needs, a methodology I also applied to my personal relationships by providing direct solutions and advice. However, upon venturing into the realm of coaching, I encountered a paradigm shift. My mentors emphasized that a true coach must neither offer direct solutions nor pass judgment on their clients. This concept was contrary to everything I had known, but a sliver of trust in my new teachers encouraged me to persevere. Coaching turned out to be a formidable challenge. Despite years of ingrained habits, I learned that the most valuable insights are those that clients discover themselves.

In one particularly memorable session, when I subtly suggested a solution to a junior engineer, his rejection caught me off guard, a bruising blow to my ego, but an invaluable lesson. It taught me the significance of sidelining my ego. In subsequent interactions, I resisted the urge to offer solutions, mindful of that earlier disdainful reaction. I now understand that respecting a coachee means believing that they have many of the answers within. This belief also underpins much of my work as a university lecturer and final project supervisor, where I stress that the primary role of a graduate thesis advisor like me, most of the time, is to let students find their own solutions rather than imposing mine.

Albert Einstein once described success in life as "X + Y + Z," where X is work, Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut, which goes beyond merely "biting your tongue." Being silent means not speaking when it is unnecessary, especially when it comes to offering unsolicited solutions and advice. So, I ask you, whether as a coach or simply as an individual, do you really maintain silence when you listen?

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