There is a lot of research out there on adult learning theories. I am certainly no researcher, but I’d like to share my experiences of why most training, seminars, webinars, etc… fail me. Again, this isn’t from research, just from my own life experience.
First of all on training – the ultimate goal is to create change… right? We want to improve people. We want people to take a skill, a mindset, a new approach to something. We want them to be better. We want them to change. So our approach is to give them the knowledge they need. We “train” them by giving them the information. We may even demonstrate the knowledge or skills. We may even follow John Medina’s guidelines and have them DO what we are teaching them so they can prove they know how to do it, and it is even more embedded in their mind.
That works well for many skills and types of programs. It works well for, say, how to prepare a great presentation. Or how to facilitate a meeting. Or how to create a financial plan for your company. But why does it seem that for bigger changes, changes in life that actually matter the most are rarely affected by traditional training? Why can’t people make big changes in their life with just the knowledge they need? Can’t they see that life will be better?
I suspect this is why the awesome motivational speakers have such a great business. They get a lot of recurring customers (again, just my speculation). They get people who come and hear the tools and knowledge they need, they are even inspired to make some changes, but when the rubber hits the road, they rarely can make sustainable life changes. So they go back to the seminar next time it comes around.
I think it hit me as I read the classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. (By the way, this is on my TOP 4 Best Books Ever list.) If you consider the important points this book makes about what people really want, it should change how you think about training, education, and helping people make changes.
People want to feel important.
People want others who are interested in them.
People don’t want to be criticized.
People need to have an “eager want.”
People want others to honestly see their point of view.
And so on…
Most adult education programs do a poor job at most of this.
- We sit in a room with hundreds of other people who are all being told the same information. That doesn’t help us feel important.
- We often feel criticized when our way is presented on stage as the wrong way, but the trainer will go home at the end of the day, and unless you are willing to pay them for more help, you are left on your own to make the changes they are demanding you make in order to improve.
- There is no heartfelt interest in us as “students,” because we paid our fee and are crammed into a massive ballroom and forced to listen to lectures all day.
That’s when it occurred to me. No amount of training and knowledge has ever come close to helping me make changes as my own Master Mind. My EO Forum. This is a group that knows the real me. They make me feel important, they are genuinely interested in me, in my success. They don’t criticize me (unless I really deserve it). They respect me. They see my point of view.
Now, with this group in my life, the training I attend (either with them or without them) becomes a part of me and my relationship with the group. I share with them changes I want to make. Then I share with them the tools I’ve recently gained… and then they hold me accountable to bringing those changes to life. They aren’t interested in wasting their time or my time with “flash in the pan” seminars that seem life changing but go nowhere. They call me out on it regularly. But training that matters, they help me enact.
In wrapping up this rant, I just want to say that in my personal experience, training that desires to create real change, can have a better chance of succeeding when blended with a long-term accountability group of tight relationships, coaching, and mutual respect.