Sometimes we gravitate towards people who are similar to us, or have had similar experience.
They have “walked in our shoes” and we assume they understand us, our issues, and our struggles.
This gravitational pull becomes stronger during training or workshops when you ask people to break into small groups. The same industries, positions, and titles want to talk to others with similar positions in similar industries with similar titles.
To disrupt this tendency during a recent day-long workshop on Coaching, we encouraged each person to find someone radically different from their industry, position, or title. These pairs would practice coaching each other through a current struggle or challenge.
After a few awkward moments, the partners found each other and began to coach each other through the framework we provided. We emphasized that the right coaching framework allows you to help others despite not being a subject-matter expert in their field. (The beauty and the risk of interactive training is you get to see first-hand whether or not your ideas and concepts really work. Sometimes you brace yourself for potential failure.)
We were about to see this coaching concept tested with one particular pair that were so radically different (law enforcement and water treatment) that we paid close attention to their progress.
During the debrief, we heard from those being coached, and the practicing coaches.
We waited to hear from our radically different pair.
“You know, I was a little hesitant at first. I thought, how could they know anything about what I do? But it was the Outsider Perspective that made me look at this in a way I never considered.”
The Outsider Perspective isn’t immersed in our world, so they ask hard questions (they don’t know what they are not supposed to ask).
The Outsider Perspective isn’t bound by our perceived limitations, so they offer insight into potential solutions.
The Outsider Perspective is looking at your issue, problem or challenge with a fresh point of view.
The Outsider Perspective can challenge your assumptions and your bias.
The Outsider Perspective may be exactly what we need.