Give Me Training or Give Me Death!
I say: take no thought of the harvest, but only of proper sowing. –(Famous Dead Poet), T.S. Eliot, Choruses from The Rock
You want to be better! It’s not a question. If you’re reading this article, you have a desire to perform on a higher level—at work and in life. You’re the fraction of the workforce and society that is ready to perform, learn, and live a better tomorrow than what you’ve achieved today.
But how do we get better? How do we really make worthwhile contributions to our family and friends, our organizations, and our clients, day in and day out?
And I’m not talking about that old dinosaur called Two-Day Seminars or Workshops. The days of one- or two-day classrooms as “training solutions” are ineffective and dying. That’s teaching; that’s not training. I’m talking about a consistent effort to purposely get better at your job through a series of activities, experiences, and acquisitions of knowledge, skills, and competencies that are integrated into your workflow as the actual learning process—not a 15-minute follow up to some mountaintop experience you had last week. Training is a long distance race! It’s not a few toe touches and jumping jacks.
While the classroom itself still holds some meaning, the idea that you only get better in a classroom simply is not true anymore. There era of Dead Poets Society has moved beyond standing up on your desk and shouting about seizing the day, it’s a continual effort outside the classroom, in the real world, actually seizing moments. You can learn theories and skills in a classroom, but you can’t be trained to use them. You can’t create a habit in a Two-Day Workshop. With technological advancements, the idea that Soft or Off-the-Job training takes place outside of your normal workflow (in a classroom, away from your desk, pontificating some abstract leadership philosophy on a mountaintop) is Dark Age thinking. Seminars may be events, but they’re only events. Seminars and workshops don’t make us better; they only make us think about getting better.
Your colleague who is going to run in a marathon this fall doesn’t go to a one-day motivational seminar, or runners’ workshop, and think that he’s prepared to run 26.2 miles tomorrow—he trains for the event by exercising daily on a strict schedule, eating the right foods, getting the proper rest, and shedding a few drops of blood, sweat, and tears as prepare for race day.
If you’re not training, you’re dying from a slow and painful mediocre contribution. It’s not meaningless work, but it could become so much more if we take the leadership, the people, and the technical skills seriously enough to put them into action and apply them directly to our everyday real work and real lives. The next generation of leaders and learners want training, real sustained training, and through that training they want to make great contributions to the world and the workplace.
Jason Diamond Arnold
Co-Author of Situational Self Leadership in Action