If anyone asks me what one thing I took away from this session, I'm almost embarassed to admit that I'd say, "Damn, it was hot in that room."
Fortunately, that wasn't the only thing I took away, but it wasn't the most comfortable setting, nor was it really conducive to the kinds of learning that Ann Naymie & Maureen Hannah were trying to get across. (According to them, Peter Block was in the room before them and wreaked a little havoc on the dreadful theatre style seating that the MTCC seems to think is a good idea for conferences.
(Sidebar: Is there not anyone willing to stand up to MTCC and tell them that this sort of thing is just not acceptable? At over a grand a head for admission, you'd think the organizers would have a little pull. But, I digress)
The focus of this session was on mentoring/coaching and the concept of appreciative inquiry. One of my immediate thoughts (echoed by my exercise partner Jackie) was that mentoring and coaching are two separate disciplines and one should not try to confuse or blend the one with the other. If you take this site as an example, that belief seems to stand up.
During the opening few minutes of the session as I began to schvitz from the press of bodies, I was a little non-plussed by the positioning of the session and I thought it might turn out to be a little too superficial. But once we got past the few slides, we had the chance to do some role-play and inquiry practice with a partner or two. As we got through the exercises, I began to see more uses for this kind of inquiry and I was also seeing more reinforcements of the mentoring/coaching differences. It was also good - albeit in a personal/practical kind of way - to practice active listening along with the inquiry and questions. I also tried to take a small page from Peter Block's book and change the nature and shape of the questions I was asking, so that was a small benefit in and of itself.
So, the session had some interesting possibilities for me, even though it started a little weakly, and I'm glad I stayed. I can see ways in which I can change the nature of my inquiries when making those initial contacts with potential clients. I can also see how I'd like to be able to build on my coaching strengths to help (PB) "share my gift" with other people. But I honestly don't know that I'd want to be a mentor for someone. I'd significantly critical of my own shortcomings and painfully aware that my career path that I wouldn't want someone to try to emulate me along either path. Besides, I wouldn't want to take away from someone experiencing the joys of forging their own path.
Lesson learned; stick around...things might just get better.