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.