The Curse Of The Professional

What do you do easily and with little thought? As leaders, we are usually very aware of what takes conscious effort on our part, but less so about other things. Those things you do unconsciously and easily are important, although they probably range from trivial to essential actions.

Maybe we learned something so long ago that we have forgotten any effort required to gain the skill in the first place. Think tying your shoelaces or checking the rear-view mirror before backing up.

This is why teaching our young citizens basic skills and behaviors is so important. We create our future by how we teach those who are just learning how to read, talk, and think.

Maybe our first leadership experiences came so early in our lives or careers that we have to focus on remembering the influence of those early experiences on our current leadership behavior.

Maybe we have done something so often that it does not require conscious thought on our part. Repetition etches a behavior or a process into our brains. We do something on a regular basis or frequently, so that the steps and the feel become part of us. We know what to do intuitively

We go on auto-pilot as some say, although when we truly know a thing, we still easily sense when things are not going correctly. An error or misstep should quickly bring us to full consciousness and initiate a problem-solving process. We lead as we have learned to lead, and hopefully notice when that leadership is not working.

Maybe we have learned to do a thing so well that it has become second nature to us. Think about master coaches who seem to effortlessly shift into coach mode as needed, and when appropriate, given a situation. The visible ease probably reflects years of learning and practice to make it look easy. Those who cannot smoothly shift from working mode to human being mode may be seen as stilted or stiff.

On the other hand, when as someone one remarked to me, “Well, all you seem to do is sit around and talk to people. I do that all day too”, comparing my work with dually diagnosed patients in a hospital treatment program to their hanging out at the local coffee shop every day.

A truly effective leader is not always the person you notice or the one who broadcasts their leadership. Leadership can be quiet, unobtrusive, and natural, yet also highly effective through one's influence on others.

The Curse Of The Professional

This is the curse of the professional - we make doing something look so easy that those who do not know the underlying skills think that the thing is actually easy. So easy that anyone could do it, without all that fancy training, education, and practice.

Counselors, coaches, teachers, and other helping professionals know this curse. Highly effective leaders and managers also suffer from this condition.

Yes, I am talking here about the Conscious/Unconscious Learning Model familiar to most of us. As we continue to move behaviors and actions to the unconscious competence stage, we create an image that what we do is easy to do, because we make it look that way.

Getting back to my original question, the responses you give to that question is what the world sees as your skill set.