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Will better conversations and action learning be the only way to save our planet?

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Face of a chold pained blue and green depicting the planet earth and our legacy.
Our Beautiful Earth.

This is the latest in a series of blogs regarding coaching and mentoring in my attempt to make it more accessible to a wider audience by demystifying what it is and is not, encouraging people to engage with it effectively and to enhance my practice as well. Today I am exploring Action Learning (Reg Revans) and how it might be a good idea to start having some challenging and high quality conversations with each other to engage with and solve our big “here and now problems” for a better future for all of us.

Here are a few sobering facts to get you started as to why having better conversations and being open to challenge might be worth your while:

Excluding the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there have been 2056 nuclear test explosions in, on or around our beautiful planet since 1945. (source)

It is estimated that 187 million people died as a result of war from 1900 to the present. The actual number is likely far higher. (source)

From 1850 to 2019, 2,400 gigatons of CO2 were emitted by human activity. Around 950 gigatons went into the atmosphere. The rest has been absorbed by oceans and land. (source)

In 2019, about 43.1 billion tons of CO2 from human activities were emitted into the atmosphere. This was an all-time high, breaking the previous record from 2018. The emissions could form a giant “CO2 cube” measuring 30 km on each side. (source)

There are over 70+ facts on deforestation, none of them very hopeful, here are four staggering facts to get you going (source) :

  1. Forests cover 30% of the earth’s land.

  2. It is estimated that within 100 years, there will be NO rainforests left

  3. Agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation.

  4. Loss of forests contributes between 12 percent and 17 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. (World Resources Institute)

So to action learning then...a potential form of coaching for the future of us all.

Coaching has lots of definitions because whilst the key skills might on the surface be similar, it is applied very differently and in many different walks of life. To this end, coaching has been variously describes as:

  • Helping people to have better conversations with themselves

  • Maximising the potential of people

  • A personal development activity

  • Transformational learning opportunity

  • A heuristically focused process to enable people to solve their own challenges

It always involved a commitment to take some course of action and to be on the metaphorical hook to actually do that action, here are some examples:

  • Having that challenging conversation

  • Changing your job

  • Finding (or sadly sometimes leaving) your life partner

  • Quitting smoking

  • Talking that big decision that will have a huge effect on your family or your business

All of these are difficult because they involve personal risk and consequences, responsibility, and accountability.

Personally, I think Action Learning and Action Learning Sets are a brilliant way to engage with and solve complex problems through dialogue and predominantly constructing and asking questions designed to challenge the status quo and unpick our ignorance.

This was a tough gig for Reg, who fell out with many so called experts because his approach challenged what might be described as expertise, and if experts don’t like being challenged, well…..the status quo is a powerful thing is it not? He actually had to leave his University and take up a role in another country as a result. Have a look at this amazing video of him being interviewed about his life and work, he can explain it much better than anyone.

Reg Revans full interview on action learning lasts 45 minutes, but there are shorter versions of 10 -12 minutes sections at the end of this blog if you want to look at it in stages.

What we can also learn from Reg, is that not conforming and being challenging and really listening to others is hard work. However it can come with great rewards and improved knowledge of self and greater self-confidence - his legacy, Action Learning is widely used in many forward thinking organisations. So, I challenge you to have a go at it and to find out more about it in your work and life.

Why is that?

Well, in our world, many people don’t have a voice. I think this is terrible. But having a voice is only part of the challenge. Being open to challenge and critically reflecting in order to learn or experience something new is one of the greatest gifts given to us. Something that we all find difficult (see my blog on Cognitive Dissonance to find out why). Then to take action, to have a go and see what happens and gain insight from experience. Then just when you think you've nailed it, bring what you have learned back to the action learning set for more questions and challenge and then more action and learning.

Imagine opening yourself up to real challenge and doing things differently. Then finding out that what you believe, think or do might not be having the effect you thought it was and then having a desire to change your core beliefs, your thoughts and your actions?? This is sometimes called Transformational Learning which ultimately can lead to Transformational Development in People. This is what real coaching is all about and Action Learning is one form of it which you can get on and do right now to make the future a better place for us all.

If you'd like to find out more, please get in touch and as ever, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Principal Coach - Elnor's Corner Limited

Revans Interview - Action Learning - Part 1 (12 Mins)

Revans Interview - Action Learning - Part 2 (12.5 mins)

Revans Interview - Action Learning - Part 3 (8 mins)

Reg Revans Interview - Action Learning - Part 4 (12 mins)

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