Potential coaching clients come to me with a problem or a desire to learn a new skill. In the initial session, we determine if I’m a good fit for them and what they would like to accomplish. If that shows promise, then the next session focuses on my knowing the individual’s history, including significant events, goals, values, places, people, failures, mistakes, and key learnings.
“To learn the past is to know the present. To know the present is to know yourself.” – Ibram Kendi
By learning about an individual’s past, I gain tremendous insight into where they are today in order to make changes in the future.
Many historians believe Lincoln to be the most significant U.S. President our country has ever had. To know Lincoln’s history gives one tremendous insight into Lincoln’s actions as President. Did you know Lincoln’s father beat him for reading? Lincoln’s father thought reading and learning were a sign of laziness! Did you know Lincoln was a riverboat pilot in his early twenties? He saw firsthand the injustice and inhumanity of slavery traveling the Mississippi River to New Orleans. That experience gave him insight into the need for good rivers and roads to help move commerce and help towns thrive. Did you know Lincoln’s moral courage and convictions outweighed his ambition? At 26 years of age, he was only one of six in the Illinois legislature at to vote to do away with slavery. Because of Lincoln’s upbringing, history, and experience, Lincoln stood for four central ideas: the creation of a national bank; protective tariffs (taxes); governmental support for internal improvements; and an expanded system of public education.
My friend, Tom Corbin, a sculptor, has been commissioned to create a larger-than-life-sized bronze of Harry Truman for the state of Missouri that will be placed at The U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall in the fall of 2022. Tom immersed himself in studying Truman. Tom shared that knowing Truman had helped him create the sculpture.
As a student of leadership, I study styles and models and read books from subject-matter experts on leadership. It’s Covey’s 5th habit, seek to understand before being understood. To know the person, their history, and their values is to better understand their behavior, beliefs, and vision for the future.