“It is a mistake for anyone to think he has lived too long in his old, unsatisfactory ways to make the great change. If you switch on the light in a dark room, it makes no difference how long it was dark because the light will still shine. Be teachable. That is the whole secret.”
Vernon Howard, The Power of Your Supermind
When you first read this quote who came to mind? Did you think about some of the experienced people who attend your training and sit in at the back with their arms crossed, a scowl on their face and an apparent attitude of, “I dare you to teach me.”?
Or, did you think of yourself and your fellow trainers?
It is easy to focus outwardly on the people who attend our training programs without realizing that we often own a piece of that attitude. Maybe part of the reason they show up with an attitude is that you been teaching the same material, in the same way for years.
We stick with crappy PowerPoint slide decks and make the excuse that we don’t have time to update the material or the slide shows, or that we are not one of those tech savvy new people. Often times however the truth is that we don’t want to put in the time or take the risk to change the PowerPoint, or that we are afraid to ask for help on how to make the PowerPoint presentations more engaging.
We still do straight lecture presentations and blame the attendees saying that they will not participate when the reality is that we are uncomfortable taking the leap to making the classes more interactive.
We know the research on learning says that the way we have been teaching is not conducive to actual learning and retention of the material, but we are unwilling to ask for help or to take the risk of changing the way we deliver training to find ways to incorporate the research into how we teach.
Too often trainers, teachers and coaches default to, “I have been doing it this way for years and it has always been effective. If these new people can’t learn the material that is not my fault or my problem.” Actually it is your problem and it may very well be your fault.
In my three decades of teaching and training I have made a lot of mistakes and have been reluctant to change at times. What has helped me to “switch on the light” was to step back and remind myself of Guiding Principles 2 and 3 in the Excellence in Training Philosophy, “#2 You have not taught until they have learned. #3 It’s not about me.”
One of the key traits of great trainers is that they are Teachable. Being teachable means that you are willing to learn from your students, your peers, the research and anyone else who can make you a better trainer, teacher and coach.
Us old dogs can be taught new tricks, if we are willing to learn. What you do is too important for you not to continue to learn. If you are unwilling to learn then it is time to move on from your role as a trainer.
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