Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

When you’ve been doing something for a while, and are acknowledged as an expert, its hard to believe that you can learn much. Its a challenge as trainers that we face weekly. Most of our customers are successful enterprises and they tend to hire for experience, aptitude and attitude, so losers are thin on the ground. It makes every session unique, and comes with unique challenges. Some participants cant see the benefit of learning at first, “if it aint broke, why fix it” they muse, adopting the attitude of “Hostage” or “Holidaymaker”, rather than “Happy Learner”.

Since last summer I’ve been telling the story of my 7 year old, Ziggy, to help catalyst the learning journey. He point blank refused to believe that Andy Murray (2 times Wimbledon Champion) had two coaches. He knew that he had won Gold at the Olympics, so it seemed absurd to him that only a few weeks later, he was in need of coaching support.

So last week, when I flew to Wiesbaden to learn from the people that wrote the books on Accountability, I was excited. I’m addicted to learning myself, so I didn’t think about how challenging a week on the other side of the flip-chart may be. In reality 7 days straight would be hard for anyone, but it wasn’t the learning that challenged me the most.

When I met my friend and Master Trainer, Robin the week before, he had seemed genuine in his excitement about me being in his training room. “I don’t get much chance for feedback from people I respect”, he said, and flattered as I was, I missed the point.

Many of the team were unknown to me, yet we had some some high calibre learning professionals from all over the globe. I guess your don’t get to be know as a word leader in results based solutions without having exceptional trainers in your network.

And I soon realised why Robin was so keen on asking for feedback. Being someone who regularly takes his own medicine, he was practising staying Above The Line and developing his own personal Accountabilty for his results. Roger Connors, co-author of The Oz Principle and 2 other bestseller on Accountability ,had spoken to us of how critical feedback is in enabling a culture of accountability, yet it wast until we started learning the material, teaching it back to each other, and asking for, and providing feedback, that the insight hit me hard.

And hard it is.

To be honest with other seasoned pros. And to be honest enough to accept that you have stuff to learn. Or I have stuff to learn. About what I already know.

I’m deeply grateful to my colleagues at DOOR International and Partners In Leadership for the deep and meaningful feedback they gave across this week. While I am exhausted and drained from it, I have experienced the learning journey that we so often put our participants thorough. I am able to SEE IT, and OWN IT, and I’m already ready to get into action. It may take a few months until Partners In Leadership can accredit me to deliver their material to the high standards they expect. Yet I am very lucky that it has already taught me so much.

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