Archive for April, 2008

I like to improve myself. It’s not that I am unhappy with myself, but I feel that doing nothing to improve myself is like going backwards.

On the projects I worked on, I tried to learn something everyday. I quickly discovered I learned faster by reading non-fiction books. Then I realized that I could learn even faster while following courses, or better practical workshops. I became independent because I wanted to follow more courses. I now spend 20% of my income (not my profit) to books and courses.

Although I was working in IT, I was always interested in the customer, in the relations between the developers etc. 7 years ago, I realized I wanted to learn more about people and their interactions. My father had followed a training for leadership when I was 15-16, so I asked him what he felt about that course. We talked a long time, the one sentence I still remember from that talk was: "I only regret one thing for this course: I regret I did not follow this earlier".
That was the encouragement I needed to know.  So I followed the VTLG (Advanced Training for leading groups).

That one year course blew me away. It changed my life both professional and privately.

Fast Forward a few years: I realized that the lack of communication skills in a lot of IT people when I was working as an MCT

In the last issue of Microsoft The Architecture Journal Joe Shirey said it very nice in his The Softer Side of the Architect:

Many problems stem from the inability to communicate with people in the terminology they use on a day-to-day basis.

I agree when I hear from projects that go wrong, in 80% of the cases it is because of communication and not because of bad (use of) technology.
That is also why I switched from a .NET trainer to become an agile project coach.

After doing a few years of coaching, it felt like I wanted to do this the rest of my life. So if it is really my thing, why not follow another training on coaching. I looked at a lot of training’s, workshops etc about coaching. I did not really see any of these training that jumped out of it.

So I started to think, ok what are the skills I want to learn in this training.

I wanted to improve my communication even more.
Communication is 4 things. Reading, writing, Speaking and listening.

  1. I read 20 to 30 pages a day . I am a great reader
  2. One of the reasons for this blog is writing more and improving my writing skills by doing that.
  3. Speaking is ok. 
  • I have been giving technical training for 5 years. I can talk to IT people.
  • I started my career as a Telephonic software support engineer. I can talk to customers. Both end-users and business people.

On top of that Dr Covey says that 40% of all communication is listening. Ok I think you can never learn enough how to listen. At least learn how to listen empathically.
Where can I learn how to listen?

And then I stroke me: GTT Gestalt Therapy Training (GTO Gestalt Therapy Opleiding). If there is one profession where people need to listen, it would be a therapist. And of all the therapist probably the gestalt therapy is where I will learn most (As they look at the complete picture.)

When I told my father that (He and my mother are now both Gestalt therapists), he agreed with me it was the best out of all the courses I mentioned.

On top of that I don’t know any other training where people learn how to listen. No other.

This training is 4 years. During these 4 years I have

  • a weekend once every month.
  • we have to read a few books,
  • I have an exam about psychology.
  • We have a homework group once every month.
  • We have several practical exercise days on top of the weekends.
  • We have to write a report about every weekend (I should be writing that instead of this blogpost.)
  • Update: it’s considered best to do some learning therapy sessions with a real gestalt therapist. Both to grow and to see how it works in a one-to-one session

The first two years are personal years. The trainers do a lot of personal stuff with us. So we see them working with real people, while still working on ourselves.

The last two years we have to do work as a real therapist. In the beginning I tough I will only do the first two years. Before I started I realized I wanted to do the whole four years. So yes I will be working as a therapist for 2 years.

At this moment I still think I do this to improve myself as a coach. And I will not leave IT. (I might change my mind after I have finished the 4 years.)
One of the reasons is I see people doing dangerous stuff in groups. Someone reads a book and gives a training about that, and does not realize that he /she might go very deep for a participant. That is dangerous. I prefer to create a safe environment.
It is a fine line between coaching and therapy. I have already been accused that I was doing therapy in a company. I knew enough from therapy and from bringing greater results to teams to know I was not doing that. I did not knew enough about therapy to explain the difference to that CEO.

So if you came on this page because the fact that I am doing a Gestalt therapy training and you wonder why would a project coach, leadership coach do this; I hope I convinced you that I don’t want to do therapy in your company.

Oh I am sure I will run into people that could benefit from a therapist. If that happens I will focus on getting the best results with these people and at max I will propose them to go to a personal therapist. (And I do know 15 future therapist close enough to recommend one that could fit.)

If you like acronyms like GTT & GTO, check out my post on acronyms

Michel and Els brought it up. So many people in IT use words they hardly understand and when they do they don’t take the time to explain the basics.

TMN: stands for This Means Nothing. I use it in meetings where people use 3 letter words all the time and I have the feeling not everyone understands them.
When I get that feeling I say something like.

“I agree with you, but did you think about TMN? “

A lot of people just continue without loosing a beat, yes, that is not a problem because ….

After a little discussion I ask them what TMN means. When I explain it, they get my point.

In other meetings I will just bluntly say I don’t understand this or that acronym, even if I know it but suspect others don’t. In a lot of meetings I get different answers from different persons. Usually when they agree what the 3 letter word means, the other discussions are over.
I don’t mind making a fool of myself if that means I save the face from someone else. In my experience, TMN works better because people realize more there is a problem with using acronyms without explaining them.

That is why on the projects I coach, I ask to make a list of all the abbreviations. It gives a lot of discussions at the beginning of the project, but it saves a lot of anger afterwards.

Tags van Technorati: Acronyms,TMN

Small video of Stephen Covey about the Indian Talking Stick.

See my training @BarCamp Gent about "Win WIn Win with a talking stick"