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Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Trainer's Inner Condition

"The success of an intervention is dependent on the inner condition of the intervener" - Bill O'Brien, Late CEO of Hanover Insurance

I came across this quote recently as I prepared for one of the training projects I got involved in.

This struck me because I believe I am an intervener and so are other leaders and training professionals I've met. I also think that building a strong enough inner condition is more challenging than learning how to design and deliver a training program.

I look at most commercial training for trainers programs including my own and I find that many focuses on the technical aspect of training - the Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation (ADDIE) but fails to focus on clarifying and helping shape the trainer's inner condition and I wonder if we are developing trainers whose sense of mission are unclear.  I wish to change that in the future.

I came across people who like to become training professionals because they like the feeling of being in front of people. Some like the money that comes with using their gift of gab. Many got to this profession because of their genuine desire to help. I'd like to think that I am more the latter than the two former without saying that I don't love the attention and the money.

I am writing from the heart  here so let me just say what I think and throw caution to the wind on whether what I am saying makes sense or sufficient to stir action. Here are  a few inner conditions that I believe should be clarified by a trainer:

Sense of purpose - Before we stand in front of people (or back) I think we need to get a clear sense of where we are going and how we intend to get there. I mean clarifying our own personal core values, our mission and our vision for ourselves and for our advocacy or ministry. Having a clear sense of purpose gives us a moral compass that will guide our action and define our commitments.

Take stock of our strengths - "Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makararating sa paroroonan." (Those who do not know how to look back from where they came from will not be able to get to where they need to be)- Old Filipino saying. I'd like to redefine this saying. We are who we are and where we are because of the path we took and the people we encountered. There's a whole lot of contributors to who and what we are now and it will be a great pity that we do not honor those contributions if we don't recognize the strengths that we developed in our journey, much less capitalize on them.

Build personal credibility - One of the advantages of being a hit-and-run trainer is that people don't know you personally and will probably never know if you do practice what you preach. But we know ourselves. We know when we are not being truthful. When that happens, there should be a small voice that gets louder and louder, forcing and stressing us until we finally decide if we will practice what we preach or stop preaching what we can't practice. If there is no such voice and yet we continue to mouth words we don't practice, we will be fooling a lot of people. We won't be trainers then, we'll be cons.

Recognize that we have blind spots - We all have blind spots. In our desire to project expertise, we tend to hide or ignore signs of those blind spots. I think it is important  first to recognize that we have them and that we will need others to inform us when those blind spots are manifesting. Second, we need to listen to people so we can identify those blind spots and work on them. I think that accepting that we have blindspots and wanting the help of others to address them will keep us humble and humble is good. It will help us learn and grow as individuals. When we learn and grow as individuals, our inner conditions improve. The more our inner conditions improve, the better we can help others improve their own.

I think this an important topic. I wish to write some more about this and maybe improve this one in the future but I feel that it is important to get this out now. If this interests you, expect more in the future.

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