Working Genius & Coaching [Discernment]

Discernment is noteworthy for several reasons.

  1. It's the third letter/step in the Working Genius process. (Wonder and Invention are the first two.)
  2. Discernment may be the most neglected part of the process while at the same time the most important.
  3. Discernment is likely the most difficult genius to describe and also to trust.

Let me explain.

The official Working Genius definition of Discernment is "The natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluating ideas and situations."

It's a gut thing. And personally, that is hard for me. I'm a facts person. I value logic and reason, so when someone with the genius of discernment just isn't "feeling it", I have a hard time accepting that. 

And yet - I have paid many a steep price for skipping this step. 

I'd like to think I have this genius, but the truth is I just want to move things along. I tend to go straight from invention to implementation and skip D and G altogether. (More on G next time.)

Once I start something it is really hard for me not to finish it, so you would think I would be very careful about discerning IF I should start something. The opposite is true for some people. They don't feel the same compulsion to finish, but they start lots of things they don't finish. Both are costly. When you complete something just because you started it, there are many costs involved - time and money for starters, but also attention is in there. If you start lots of things and don't complete them at least you are cutting your losses, but you may also find that people may not jump in with you right away as they may want to see how committed you are.

Discerning well, then, becomes valuable in a variety of ways. It can save you time, money, focus, and credibility.

I kind of just hate it when someone with this gift can't really explain why they aren't behind something that has been proposed. If I know why then I can adjust what needs to be adjusted. 

And what's more, what if they aren't right? It can happen. What if the proposed item, pathway, or option really turns out to be the right way forward?

Here's what I have come to understand. If the D's aren't feeling it then I want to pay close attention. I don't want to move forward without everyone on board. Maybe the timing is off. Maybe we need more input. Maybe there are needed tweaks. But I know that if we move forward without this crucial step we will most likely have regrets and pay unneeded costs, the least of which may be that we have forwarded our own thoughts and timing without being a team player.

As a coach, this can get tricky.

If the coach has D for a genius they may have a sense that something is off for someone they are coaching. How can they forward their concern without taking over another person's processing?

Or if the person being coached has discernment as a genius, helping them to see and value the other letter makes the coaching process complete. While D is invaluable it doesn't stand alone.

One way this has played out well for me personally is to offer multiple plans. As I mentioned last time I have Invention for a genius so rather than try to come up with that one best plan, I now try to offer a few. This gives the D's in the process options to choose from and often helps our team to come up with a hybrid I would not have seen on my own.

A good coaching session should include a variety of options for next steps before deciding on the actual action steps. 

Whether you the the coach or the person being coached, can I encourage you not to skip this crucial step in the process?! 

How have you seen discernment work personally or professionally? I'd love to hear! 


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