If you’re not going to training, you’re not going anywhere.
Training is an incredibly important part of your professional and personal self-development. But here’s the thing – it’s not all up to the facilitator to plan prepare and present, while you sit back like you’re at a restaurant feasting on what you want and leaving the scraps on the plate. It’s equally your responsibility to plan, prepare and be present, not just for yourself, but for others as well. A successful outcome from training is very much a collaborative effort.
A big part of training, other than the focal topic, is what you learn about learning, yourself and others
Day one of training and the most daunting task is always to find the best seat and someone to say an awkward hello to. A lot hinges on how I’m feeling about the training. Am I match ready? Am I feeling out there, self-ware man and ready to really immerse myself in personal growth?
If it’s yes, then I want experience – I want my boundaries bent, my borders breached. I’m not getting on the merry-go-round; I am going for the space mountain roller coaster ride at Disneyland. For my training buddy, I’ll be looking for the old lady wearing the Jedi T-shirt and the lightsaber hanging from her pencil-case zipper.
However, if I’m feeling particularly vulnerable and subsequently defensive, then I am probably looking for the identical twin brother I never knew I had, someone who’s into football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars. I want someone who is feeling equally vulnerable and with whom I can share a collective shield against the personality penetrating, icebreakers, questions and group discussions.
How do you feel about training? What’s your first inclination, fight or flight?
Self-awareness is a critical component of successful training. When I walk into the room for a training session, I need to be able to take a CCTV view of how I am feeling. What emotions am I experiencing. Am I on board, or have I fallen off and floating in a life buoy in the wake of the ship even before the journey has started. If you have, recognize it and climb back on board, dry yourself off, pull up a deck chair, grab a cocktail and join the party.
Know who you are, what you need, then go and get it
Behaviours are fascinating. Ultimately, we are all in charge of our own destiny and so we just have to take responsibility for it. As they say, “don’t wait around for a savior, often no one is coming”. No adult is ready to learn, to grow or develop until they can make an honest self-assessment of their own skills and knowledge. When we do that, we can visualize the learning opportunity, value it and embrace it. You must be honest with yourself.
Training is a transaction. Give and ye shall receive.
Planning for a successful outcome as a participant
Training is transactional. Your return is dependant on your level of investment. Like any good investment, “fail to plan and plan to fail”. There is always preparation required before you commence training. This includes research, reading and practice. But part of the preparation is mental. Making a conscious effort to get yourself in the right head space. It’s important to ask yourself how you feel about the training. Have you done what you can to remove the interference, which may include your normal workload, your personal issues? Have you got the fundamentals under control, a good night’s sleep and a sensible breakfast?
Getting comfortable with discomfort
Are you uncomfortable? Yes uncomfortable. It’s only from a position of discomfort we can learn. There are lots of things in the adult learning environment that make us uncomfortable as we bear our personality, skills, knowledge and experience for everyone to see and, as we like to think, to judge (although the average person is really focused on themselves of course). When you’re feeling vulnerable, you’re ready to grow and learn.
Preparing for discomfort
Are you prepared to connect and to share and to be respectful and non judgmental?
- Adult learning. Involves a lot of sharing of experiences. You should be willing to make the effort to connect and not only share your experiences but to actively seek those of other participants. These experiences are often as important and as insightful as the content presented by the facilitator.
- You need to be mindful of your own behaviours, how they are impacting other participants – positively or negatively? Am I dominating conversations, am I focused on my viewpoint at the expense of others? Am I contributing? Really be conscious.
- Am I a strong personality in a room with 1 or more quiet or passive personalities? Supporting and encouraging those people is another really important part of adult development and learning. Respectfully share in the facilitation.
- Have you checked your preconceived ideas and unconscious bias at the door? In training, everyone is equal and seeking the same positive outcome. Your Armani suit has no more value than her Jedi T-Shirt and jeans, and is no more a reflection of your personal or professional experience, skills and knowledge.
Ok, training’s starting, off you go, last tips
Don’t worry, you don’t have to have all the answers just to be able to seek some answers. Just do your pre-training training. Prepare to share and respect the need to respect. Make learning about learning part of you and your classmate’s overall learning experience. Remember – Most importantly – if you’re not ready to give when you enter the room, then you are really wasting your precious time and this precious opportunity.