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Teachers and Students: Making Every Interaction Meaningful

As we continue to cruise through my favorite iPEC principles, I have to say I’ve been really excited to get to #14. There’s just something about the perspective shift that comes with viewing every single person you meet as your student and your teacher. Notice I did not say your student OR your teacher. iPEC coaches, including me, believe that every single person we meet is actually both.

Let me give you an example.

Early in my coaching career, I had a client who was having a difficult time transitioning out of structured work. She was retiring and in her heart she really wanted to spend more time mentoring young people, volunteering, and taking fun classes. However, she was stuck in the pattern of thinking if she wasn’t achieving, she had no personal worth.

As I listened to her describe her inner push to go go go, I was stuck solidly in teacher mode. I was mentally solving her problem before she could even get all her thoughts out. I knew I could help this woman, and I couldn’t wait to reveal all my solutions to alleviate her inner conflict. And that’s what I did—I started a brainstorming session with all these ideas until she finally stopped me. She said that all of the options I was throwing out were stressing her even more and that she really just wanted to figure out a new way to BE more without DOING more.

Whoa. At that moment, the teacher (me) became the student. I realized that I had been trying to fix her problem when all she really wanted was a companion to be by her side as she figured out what mattered most to her. She taught me an invaluable lesson that I remind myself now before every coaching session. Ever since that conversation, I make sure I focus on BEING there with the client as a reflection and never impose my urge to DO or FIX.

If I had not been open to seeing myself as both a teacher and a student in the above scenario, I would have totally missed the boat. Even worse than that, I would have probably ruined my coaching relationship with that client and never even realized why.

No matter who we are interacting with, we need to keep our minds open to both helping them and learning from them. This includes partners, children, clients, friends, and strangers. When you talk and listen with this frame of mind, you activate triggers in your brain that you probably never knew existed. New pathways will open up. Maybe you won’t be able to teach or learn in every single interaction—that would be a lot to expect!—but being open to the possibility is really what’s important.

Give yourself the opportunity to lend a helping hand when it’s needed. But also give yourself the chance to accept that helping hand and to recognize when it’s being offered. I guarantee you it will make every single relationship you have a deeper and more fulfilling one.

Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit

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