Modern (Training) Love: If You Love Something, Let It Go…

Last week, while I was in the midst of moving homes, I realized how much smaller a 1600 square foot home is compared to a 2200 square foot home. The smaller space meant I had to make some hard choices on what to let go.

Sometimes that needs to happen in our training programs, too. In today’s Modern (Training) Love podcast, I share a heartfelt story about falling in love, then needing to let that love go for the greater good.

I don’t like to let go. I guess I’m a bit of a hoarder – when it comes to things, absolutely. But also when it comes to people. And ideas.

In 10th grade, my friend Lee moved across the state and I didn’t want to accept this idea. So we became pen pals, and we’d stay in touch and compare notes on our respective cross-country teams. This was in the days before email, so I had to go out and buy stamps to send those notes. That’s how committed I was to not letting go. As recently as last week, I had to mourn the loss of some of my favorite t-shirts and coats and books and paintings because I moved into a house that has 600 fewer square feet than my previous house and not everything will fit.

Losing people and cherished things weighs on my soul, but needing to let go of an idea, that might be the hardest thing of all.

Of course if we, in the world of learning and development and instructional design, truly love our learners more than we love ourselves, then there will be times we need to make some hard choices and let go of some of our ideas, no matter how much it hurts. Let me expand.

I still remember the day one particular idea caught my eye. I was thumbing through the centerfold of my most recent copy of Training Magazine when Bob Pike’s column caught my eye. It was an article that summarized research behind the most important factors that determine whether someone will actually use the information they’ve been trained on.

My heart began to flutter. This was the article of my dreams.

My heart began to flutter. This was the article of my dreams. It was short, it was smart, and perhaps the thing that excited me most was that it involved more than 2 people. Maybe this is coming across as a little weird, so let me explain the concept that got me all a tizzy. Bob Pike was summarizing Mary Broad and John Newstrom’s book Transfer of Training, which said that while the learner is important, and so is the trainer, the most important determining factor as to whether someone will actually put your training to use is the learner’s supervisor.

When I read this first, I felt it was so important, so exciting that I wanted to shout this from the top of the rooftops every time I had the chance. Fast forward a few years and a client asked me to develop a train-the-trainer presentation skills program for their tech company.

I loved including this concept. I came up with what I felt was a high quality day of training, and then I got a call two nights before the program was to take place. The timing on my workshop had been cut in half to make room on their agenda for a team meeting.

I was left with what I felt were a series of bad options. I could talk faster or I could eliminate some content.

I was left with what I felt were a series of bad options. I could talk faster or I could eliminate some content. I stared at my lesson plan for what felt like hours. My heart was heavy. My soul began to ache. I began to accept what I needed to do. The word “ruthless” swirled around in my head as did the word “prioritization”. Was it possible to love my learners more than I loved this concept?

I found that I was in a situation in which one of my favorite pieces of training research didn’t fit into the narrowly defined learning outcomes for the shortened session. I was going to have to be ruthless. I was going to have to say goodbye to this particular concept. And with one stroke of the delete key, it was gone.

Sometimes we need to love our learners so much that we will ruthlessly bid farewell to things that are important to us.

I couldn’t even be pen pals with the concept. It’s a decision that so many training professionals and subject matter experts who present information come face-to-face with every day. Just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s easy when it’s our turn to make that decision. But sometimes we need to love our learners so much that we will ruthlessly bid farewell to things that are important to us.

The Modern (Training) Love podcast is a Train Like You Listen production. I’m Brian Washburn, CEO of Endurance Learning. If you’d like us to bring creativity and storytelling into your next training program, drop me a line at brian@endurancelearning.com. Be sure to subscribe to Train Like You Listen so you don’t miss an episode. And give us a review – it might only take you a minute, but it would mean a lot to us. I hope you enjoyed this bit of training industry entertainment. Until next time, happy training everyone.

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