“People development” aka coaching and training, can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling activities or one of the most frustrating. It all comes down to the person you are coaching and their openness and willingness to learn and grow.

Years ago, I heard the saying “There are 3 types of people in the world. Those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened?” Granted, it is a bit of an oversimplification, but there is a lot of insight in that phrase.

As a leader, or manager, you’ll likely find there are only two types of people that truly benefit from your coaching, counsel, and support – the “watchers” that are open to learn, and the “makers” that are committed to further development.

You will have to decide, personally and professionally, with whom you will spend your time. Select wisely. Time is a non-renewable resource. Once today is done there is no re-do available. Because of that, it is wise to select where you spend your time and efforts.

Here is some perspective on the three types and how to deal with them.

Wonder what happened (don’t know, don’t care)

The “wonder what happened people” can be described as disengaged employees or even cynics who after the fact become armchair experts and criticize with little or no knowledge, perspective or engagement.

If you try to reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll likely get criticized, judged, or even maligned.  The hard truth is it’s usually best to not waste your time on a scoffer because all you’ll get for your effort is abuse.

Watch things happen (open to learn)

Those that watch but aren’t engaged often do so because of uncertainty or a lack of know-how and confidence. They can’t but want to learn how to. They can become good students. Save your energy for the open-minded and willing as you both benefit from the effort.

Make things happen (apply the lessons and learning)

The “make things happen” people have acquired skill in living. For many this has come from failing forward; being curious; seeking knowledge and insight coupled with the desire to increase in wisdom. They are the humble leaders that know lasting success can only be achieved through consistent and focused hard work and by sharing their knowledge and expertise with others.

I’ve noticed that the “makers” are also generally the most fulfilled, happy, and positive. They give without an expectation of an immediate pay back. They focus on the long game and not quarterly results. They make the tough decisions because they know someone must and often it is them!

Courage is what is most required and the least in supply. Courage is the willingness to do the things you know are right and will have the greatest positive impact.