Humility is a non-negotiable trait - especially for facilitators of learning like coaches and trainers.
My father used to tell me, “never burn your bridges,” all of the time, but I never understood it until I burned a bridge. Eric Stanberry Jr
Some people believe in burning their bridges so that they have to move forward; others again, don't believe in burning bridges and always keep options open. I, for one, like to think that I have not burnt many bridges - I burnt some because I had to and I am sure I may have burnt some without realising it...
How can it be that someone burns a bridge without realising it?
Let me share a true story to illustrate...
Janette approached the burning bridge after being downsized from her job. She was not pleased with being terminated and made this clear to her now former boss, Danielle. Janette was the top sales person in the company and believed that she was being let go because she was also the highest paid sales person. She felt the company would hire someone half her age at half what she was paid. After all the business she brought in, how could this company be so ungrateful and greedy? Janette and Danielle said things to each other in the heat of the moment that; if given the chance, they would take back and apologize for.
“Come cross me while you can,” the burning bridge coaxed Janette. Get away from that place. Look what they did to you after 18 years of loyal and commendable service. Your ego and pride don’t need to be treated like this. Cross the bridge, move on with your life, and be done with them forever.”
Janette responded out of anger, fear, and humiliation and, without much thought and acting from pure emotion, she crossed the burning bridge. As soon as she got safely to the other side, the bridge turned to ashes. There was no turning back.
As facilitators of learning, trainers and coaches should regularly do a self-reflective test and check their true north. The human ego is quite sly and ever so diplomatic; it comes up with words which we can find so charming and reassuring.
The gradual transition from a humble person to a proud person is murky at best and it is almost impossible to establish when and how it happened. And quite frankly, why would we want to?
"You have worked hard to get here, you deserve these good ratings!"
"Another happy customer! Wow, you are on a roll - well done!"
"Invited back to speak at that VIP dinner? Hope I have thàt seat again."
And so slowly but surely, the down-to-earth trainer becomes...an arrogant person who gradually pushes people away and burns the very bridges they need to keep adding value, making a living and the world a better place.
In conclusion, here is what Stanislaw Lec has to say:
"When you jump for joy, beware that no-one moves the ground from beneath your feet."
Main image: Alexander Kagan, Unsplash
Dinner image: Unknown, from Google Images