Posted on July 20th, 2012 in - Rob Zell, Learning, Lessons Learned, Management, Resources | No Comments »
by Rob Zell
I am a runner and I love it. I enjoy the challenge of speedwork Thursdays and my long- run on Sunday mornings. It is hard to describe the sense of accomplishment you feel after completing a good run; a feeling like you have really conquered something. Then again, maybe it’s just runner’s high.
Back in my high school teaching days I coached Cross Country and I used to take my team to a particular part of town for a hill workout. I knew that by having the kids train on hills they would be better prepared to deal with them in races. In fact, they would have the confidence and endurance to “charge the hill”; they would pass runners on the hill and leave them behind.
Maybe that’s why I include hills and speedwork into my weekly workouts. I want the challenge and I want to build the muscle memory and confidence for whatever I might face down the road.
Learning organizations often find themselves in a rut. Requests come in and are summarily processed. Courses are developed and posted in the curriculum library. We use the same tools, the same process, the same format, every single time. My challenge for you today is to work in some new routines to your “training workout” and see how it enhances your performance.
Try something new
Occasionally it’s nice to add in a new twist to my workout. I’ll run the last half mile at race pace (which isn’t that fast, don’t get too excited) or I’ll decide to chart a new running path and explore parts of the community I’ve never been in. I always learn something new on these runs, usually about myself.
As learning professionals, we need to be ready to model the most important part of our title: learning. That means getting out of the comfort zone and trying a new technique, testing a new process, delivering a new topic or designing a new tool. It doesn’t mean you have to do it forever, just long enough to give yourself some perspective.
Take a longer-term view
This week I’ll be running a measly 24 miles. For many runners, that’s half their weekly mileage (for optimists like me, that’s double some people’s mileage!) but I have some longer term goals. My goal is to complete a triathlon and maybe a half marathon in the next year. That means I’ll need to continue to build my weekly mileage to reach that longer distance.
As learning professionals, we add value by encouraging our clients to take a longer-term view of the business and consider how this intervention will affect performance today as well as performance down the road. How will the solution be used in the future? How well does it fit in the larger curriculum? How do we build connections between existing learning? How can we keep the solution from becoming irrelevant? With these answers in hand, you have a view to create training that accomplishes today’s goals and tomorrow’s.
Overcome an obstacle
There are plenty of days that I wake up and don’t want to run, much less run uphill. But I know that if I challenge myself, I improve my chances of completing the task in the future. Succeed or fail, I will have learned something about myself and about running hills. By learning I am better prepared for the next hill and have increased confidence overall.
I’ll bet there is someone you dread having to work with. Maybe that dread is felt for an entire team or function unit (“Oh %$*^,” you’ll say when assigned the project. “I hate working with them.”) The challenge is to examine why and look for ways to overcome it. When you do, you will learn more about them and that can only help you serve them in the future (and you will have to again at some point). You will learn more about yourself and why you react to them the way you do. By tackling the obstacle head on, you demonstrate leadership to peers and supervisors. By demonstrating leadership, you build the credibility of your organization.
I love learning and I love running. Running is a metaphor for life. By the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning and strapping on my shoes I prove to myself and the world that I can face up to the challenge of the day. When I take in every run as a chance to learn and grow, I return home healthier, stronger, smarter, and more confident and not the least bit tired.
Have you challenged yourself or your organization? What challenges have been successful in your experience?