Strategy

17th June 2015

Three Types of People

There are hundreds of such profiles. Many are well researched, lots are based on solid science and most will have a benefit to the individual particularly in terms of self-awareness. In fact Sir John Whitmore said that the primary goal of coaching is to develop a deeper sense of self-awareness. He wrote “I am able to control only that which I am aware of. That which I am unaware of controls me. Awareness empowers me. No two human minds or bodies are the same. How can I tell you how to use yours? Only you can discover how, with awareness”.

And then of course there are the millions of opinions and points of view that people are so quick to bandy about based on very little science and lots of prejudice. That is what the word prejudice means, ‘pre judging’ and it is rarely a good thing. So I was fascinated to come across an 18th Century quote from Ben Franklin, one of the founding fathers of America who said “All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move”.

I have been struck with the common sense wisdom of these words over the last few days.

In her excellent book ‘Mindset’ Carol Dweck describes two fundamental views of the world, one comes from a fixed mindset, the other from a growth mindset. That fundamental mindset will dictate how any of us will react in a given situation. In my seminars I warn people against being in the “I know”, a state of fixed mindset, which prevents us from learning. Whenever we think we already know we block all chances of learning something new.

Sir Clive Woodward divides people into ‘Rocks’ and ‘Sponges’. Rocks are incapable of learning and sponges are hungry and eager to learn. All of these are ways of describing whether people are movable or immovable. My late father in law had a great saying “By you can’t teach him much”, best said in broad North Yorkshire accent.

It is safe to say that the only people who will ever commit to the process of coaching are those with a growth mindset, those that believe that improvement is possible through learning and practice. Of course what Ben Franklin does is to recognise that the movable people are also sub divided in to those that can translate their learning into actions that give measurable results and those that don’t.

Which one are you?

You don’t need a personality assessment. You will already know whether you are of a fixed or a growth mindset. The chances are, because you are reading this, that you have enough of a growth mindset; and remember that without the desire to learn you are stuck with what you have got. The question is are you prepared to take action to behave differently?  Are you prepared to move? And if you don’t think changing behaviour is hard and requires support, just try writing with a different hand tomorrow.

Coaching is about adult behavioural change (ABC), the only valid measure of coaching is by the results that it brings. As Myles Downey describes it “Coaching is the series of conversations that help a person perform closer to his potential, understand his role or task, learn what he needs to learn in order to complete his role or task successfully, develop the skills required for the next role, and, on a good day, achieve fulfilment- and maybe a little joy- at work”.

With the right mindset and the right coach all of this and more are possible. Are you immovable, movable or someone who moves?