I’ve always wanted to see a Barn Owl in flight. This week, I was walking in the early morning hours watching the sunrise over the hills. A large hawk flew right by me and I delighted in the flight path. It was fun to see it swoop down and disappear over the ridge. As I continued on the trail, I spotted another bird nesting in the sunrise. I assumed it was the hawk. To my delight it was a Barn Owl warming up in the early sunshine. My footsteps startled the owl and he took off down the hill to land in another oak. It was one of those moments that I had waited for, was not expecting it to happen and I literally jumped with delight. As I reflected, I realized that my role as a coach is to teach managers to be good bird watchers!
Barn Owls have many adaptations: amazing eye sight, a flexible neck that can turn 180 degrees, powerful talons for catching prey and long legs for reaching down into grass for rodents. At the same time, their feathers are not water resistant so they avoid hunting during rainy periods. Barn Owls are also poorly insulated so they have unique adaptations for winter hunting. These birds balance their adaptations to overcome the challenges of surviving in winter.
I would say that the practice of being curious about nature has helped me become a good people watcher. As a coach, I have trained my ear to listen for people applying their talents. I’ve also trained my eye to watch for people’s energy at work. I recognize talents in action. I often start a coaching session by asking…”tell me about a great day at work”. I tune in to the words, expressions, and behaviors. I’ve trained my ears and eyes to recognize these moments of talent as a way to begin a relationship with a new client.
Bird watching is one of the hobbies where you learn to observe. You listen carefully and watch quietly. If you are lucky you are awarded by a flash of beauty, a new species, and a soaring flight. I wonder what would happen if all managers took a bird watching class. What would happen if they became quiet observers, curious listeners, and joyful champions of birds (colleagues) in flight.