Facilitation Lessons from a First Grade Teacher

connectionMy daughter’s first grade teacher called me the day before school started. She was calling to remind me that the school’s open house was that evening. As we introduced ourselves, we talked about how she and my daughter share the same first name. During our conversation, we also discovered that they share the same middle name, same initials, and same birthday. When they finally met in person that evening, my daughter and her teacher were elated to meet the person with whom they share so much in common. When I dropped my little girl off on her first day at school the next morning, she comfortably greeted her teacher as if they had known one another for years. Continue reading

Welcome TD Readers!

Earlier this month, Train Like A Champion was spotlighted in this article by the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) TD magazine, which has brought some fresh new eyes to this blog.

This seems like a great opportunity to welcome new readers and to thank my seasoned, experienced readers for sticking with me. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on topics and articles through the comment section.

Like something you read? Pass it along.

Don’t quite agree with something I write? Let’s duke it out in the comment section.

Following are ten posts from the past year that capture the essence of this blog. If you’re new to Train Like A Champion, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles. If you’ve been here for a while, perhaps there’s an article or two from this list that was so good that you just have to read it again.

On Monday, January 19, I’ll be back with an article focused on lesson planning for training presentations. If you’re feeling in a particularly helpful mood, I’ll also be asking for some beta testers for an online presentation planning tool that, once it’s out in the public, just might change the way presentations are delivered and holds the potential to eradicate the scourge of boring presentations from the face of this planet.

Why “Train Like A Champion”?

It started out as a joke between two colleagues and I in June 2007.  I was the “new guy” so I thought I’d show off my wonderfully brilliant sense of humor to break the ice a bit.  As we were driving to the training center for the first day of a workshop we’d be facilitating together, I was asked if I did anything special to prepare myself before getting in front of a group to facilitate.

Maybe they were wondering if I studied the lesson plans the night before.  Or perhaps whether I would picture everyone in the audience naked so that I wasn’t so nervous in front of a group.  I thought for a moment, then said: “I crank up the AC/DC on my iPod, I draw a flipchart that says ‘Train Like A Champion Today’, I hang it above my hotel room door, and I make sure I tap it twice on my way out of the room.”

My colleagues looked at each other in what appeared to be a mix of confusion and horror.  Confusion in wondering what in the world I was talking about.  Horror in wondering who this weird-o was that they were in the car with and with whom they were about to train.

I laughed and told them I was just kidding.  To prepare, I generally glance over my notes and stick a bunch of post-its on my lesson plans in order to make sure I touch on everything I want to say.  My colleagues burst out in laughter, relieved I wasn’t such a weird-o.

When I was in middle school, I remember seeing a sports report about how the players from the Notre Dame football team touch a sign that says: “Play Like A Champion Today” for good luck on their way from the locker room to the field. There are tons of superstitions and traditions in the world of sports that may seem silly… until you’re the one who decides to break the tradition because, after all, it’s just a silly superstition… and then your team loses.

In sports, if you want to win, you don’t mess with superstitions or traditions.  They’re taken very seriously.  This was the inspiration behind my joke.  In very few other aspects of life are such superstitions practiced with such fervent regularity, and training is certainly not one of those few areas.  The line “train like a champion” became a running joke between my colleagues and I.  One colleague even had t-shirts printed up with the words “Train Like A Champion” printed on the back.

The more I think of it, however, the more I wonder why “train like a champion” needs to be just a joke.  No, I don’t think it’s necessary to hang a poster with the words “Train Like A Champion Today” above the hotel room door and to tap on it prior to every facilitation experience.  But what can trainers, facilitators, presenters learn from the world of champions?

This blog is intended to explore answers to that question.