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‘Watch and Wonder’ or ‘Experience and Engage’?

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In his book Talk Like Ted, Carmine Gallo quotes from Ben Sanders.

“People don’t want to just watch and wonder. They want “to experience, to engage, to endeavor…that’s where the real meat of life is to be found.”

So, are you a ‘watch and wonder’ or an ‘experience and engage’ person? I am totally an experience and engage type…just ask my traveling friends!

This became very evident when we were traveling in Italy. So many things to see, appreciate, explore…and touch! Let’s just say that it was a smart thing for the guardians and curators in the Accademia di Belle Arti (Academia of Fine Arts in Florence) to have a fence around the breath-taking statue of David! I also learned very quickly that touching wax statues in Dublin, frescoes in Pompeii, and Florence, are greatly frowned on…actually forbidden. It’s amazing how body language, tone of voice and volume help an Irish-Canadian, totally English speaking person understand what ‘non toccare‘ means.      http://www.artoffresco.com/03-History/03.7-pompeii/03.7-history-pompeii.htm

So what does this have to do with training and development? More than you may realize.

Think about your employees or students, would you describe them as being watch and wonder, or experience and engage folks? How does that impact the way they learn…how should it then influence the tools and techniques you use for training and developing?

Let’s apply this to a lesson most of us have experienced at some point in our life…learning to ride a bike. Many options are available: read a manual, watch a YouTube video, and listen to someone explain, watch someone demonstrate, or get on a bike and figure it out. Your style of learning could be any one of these, or a combination of techniques. What about other topics like conflict resolution or learning to use a new piece of technology? All the options exist, but already you can identify which would be most effective for you.

Think about a skill that you know your employees or students need to acquire…got something in mind? Great, now take a few minutes and consider all the ways that skill could be taught. Next, think about your audience, how do they learn best? You will probably need to think of a combination of learning activities in order to address everyone, but the results will be well worth the effort.

So what about the way I was ‘encouraged’ to learn that frescoes were not to be touched? I did learn the lesson, but I was publicly reprimanded and embarrassed. Did I already know that I shouldn’t touch? Probably to some degree, but did I fully understand why? Not really.

OK, so hugging Pierce Brosnon's waxed statue may have bent the rules a little!
OK, so hugging Pierce Brosnon’s waxed statue may have bent the rules a little!

I admit that I am a tactile learner, and I also have to admit that I selectively adhere to rules…when they don’t make sense to me! Would my actions have been different if I had received appropriate information before hand? Absolutely! Is this a teaching style engaged in the classroom or workplace? Sadly I have seen and experienced the technique in both places…with devastating effects.

Let me encourage you to become an ‘experience and engage’ facilitator of learning. Next time you have the opportunity to provide a learning experience, think through the how and why, then let the creative juices start to flow!

Climb the steps…open the door!

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Santorini Door
Through the door…

I have just discovered that I have a fascination with steps and doors. We were looking through vacation pictures from Greece for the purpose of choosing five to print off and create a vacation memory wall…and it hit me! So many of the shots I had were of steps, stairs, and doors! Many of the doors led into private homes…each a different, vibrant colour. One particular door in Santorini actually let us access the descending steps that led to our vacation cliff home! When we opened the door, not only did we see the red clay winding steps, but we were also treated to the most amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea…breathtaking!

Perhaps my fascination with doors and steps has something to do with wondering where they lead. You can imagine the frustration when I came across locked doors, blocked steps, and ‘do not enter’ signs!

...down the steps...
…down the steps…

Does this reflect some of our approaches to training and development? Maybe.

I think it starts with our kids. We want them to grow, to be curious, to explore, to learn, but then hear ourselves say things like ‘don’t touch’, or ‘just do as I say’, or ‘hurry up!’. Moving on to formal education and the structure set in place that dictates the how and when of learning; Sir Ken Robinson has much to say on that front! Check out his blog at http://www.sirkenrobinson.com . Are we allowing time for exploration born out of curiosity, or do textbooks dictate the schedule and content?

Then we finally get the job. On the website we have read that the organization we have joined not only supports and encourages training and development, but places a high value on employees taking initiate for their own growth. Up the steps, hand on the doorknob, but it’s locked…this stated value is just that, stated, not actual. In fact you eventually discover that the first budget line to be cut when difficult times hit is professional development.

So what do you do? Throw your hands up and give up?

Not a chance…you take responsibility for your own development. It doesn’t have to come with a big price tag…be creative in your search for learning. Find a mentor, read a book, subscribe to the blog of someone who is a few steps ahead of you in their career, participate in webinars, and if the budget allows…continue your formal education. Another way to develop? Mentor someone…it’s amazing how much you learn when you are building into someone else.

…enjoy the view!

Next time you see an interesting door, or a staircase that leads to ….? Go through it, climb it, see what’s there, take time to probe and ponder what you find.