A Portrait of the Man by a Young Artist

Yesterday in church, my wife whispered into my ear: “Look at what your daughter is drawing.” What I found was amusing, and not altogether surprising.

Last year on a vacation to Hawaii, my wife suggested I had a one-track mind. Most guys do, I guess. Of course, my “one-track” is wholly devoted to learning and development.

I didn’t realize how obvious my one-track mind was until this morning when I saw my daughter draw this:

One Track Mind

It made me think that a “top 10 reasons I enjoy learning and development” would be a fun post to write today, but I couldn’t come up with 10 really good reasons. Maybe a “top 5” list? Still couldn’t do it.

Yes, I love the opportunity to be creative. I love using Mr. Sketch markers and flipchart. But there’s really only one core reason I have a passion for what I do: learning and development (when done well) can change the world. And in a world where there are so many problems, I want to do my part in changing it.

I don’t have TED Talk-sized audiences, so the worlds that I change are mostly individuals. When I design and deliver a learning experience that helps someone do something new or differently or better at work – a place where people spend more waking hours than anywhere else – it can improve their quality of life. And that can change an individual’s life as well as the lives of those around him – both at work and at home.

How about you? Perhaps you’ve been in the learning & development field for years, subscribing to this blog for some tips and ideas. Perhaps you’re what Shannon Tipton recently labelled an “accidental trainer” who fell into a learning and development role recently. Perhaps you’re someone who has a presentation coming up and you stumbled upon this blog. I believe that in order to do something well, there has to be one core reason that’s at the heart of what you do.

What drives you to do what you do? I’m curious to know where your passion lies. Leave a note in the comments section.

11 Lessons My Family Has Taught Me about Learning, Development, Facilitation, Collaboration and Change Management

  1. Saying “mom doesn’t need to know about our little trip to the store to get donuts (right before lunch)” never works… someone inevitably has loose lips and the boss will always find out when the rules have been bent (or broken)
  2. Potty training is an amazing lesson on effective (and ineffective) change management initiatives
  3. Sometimes just saying “thank you” is a lot better than trying to debate and defend yourself when feedback is given
  4. Sometimes it’s better to allow the walk to the park, which normally takes 15 minutes, to turn into a 45-minute nature expedition (exploring what happens when you blow on dandelions, picking up leaves, examining the difference between a crow and a robin, looking both ways before crossing the street) – indeed the process can be much more powerful than just focusing on the task at hand
  5. Even though I can read The Cat in the Hat much more quickly, my daughter will never learn to read if I don’t give her a chance to try it and work through the lengthy process of sounding out words for herself (this is exhibit A of why experiential training design is much more powerful than lecture)
  6. There may be a lot of things that need to be accomplished during the short, 2-day span of a weekend, but being sure to allow for downtime can sometimes be more productive than just having everything be “go, go, go” (no matter how much needs to be accomplished, building in breaks is crucial)
  7. Just because I’ve said “please clean up these toys” doesn’t mean the toys will be put away in the right place, in an orderly manner or in a place they will ever be found again… clear instructions (and even some modeling of the desired behaviors) are pretty important
  8. A head nod or a response of “uh huh” or “yes” doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re on the same page… more often than not it means “I’ll tell you what I think you want to hear if you’ll just leave me alone now”
  9. “Why do you think that is…” is a pretty good response to a 3-year-old’s perpetual repetition of the question “why?” (the old boomerang technique works every time!)
  10. Using candy, ice cream or prizes as a bribe may work in the short term (and sometimes this is a true life saver!), but can also create elevated expectations for extrinsic rewards going forward
  11. Spending some time getting everyone’s input and building a shared vision definitely takes longer but it is generally much better received than “…because I said so…”

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