So about two years ago, I was riding my mountain bike, just minding my own business when the earth decided that it had enough of me and threw me off.  Well, as you might imagine, I came back to earth but I landed on my shoulder.  Like most guys, I brushed myself off, found that I could move everything and rode home, telling my wife that it really wasn’t all that big of a deal but how cool it was that I must have cleared 10 feet.

But it did turn into a big deal. I really screwed up my shoulder.  Never realized how important my shoulder was until I couldn’t lift my arm.

Now, I think its also important to point out that I wear the equivalent of adult “Huskies”.  For those of you that didn’t have to wear this “fine” brand of clothing as a child, lets just say its for the more portly fellow.  While I enjoy mountain biking, I really need to.  Otherwise I tend to gravitate towards looking like Jabba the Hut.  So rather than say no to that third slice of pizza, I justify it with a frequent ride in the dirt.

Ok, so now what do I do?  So no to that last piece of cheesecake?!  Parish the thought!

Well, after several shots of cortisone and months of physical therapy.  I had my shoulder opened up and fixed.  But hopping back on the bike wasn’t so easy.  It took awhile.  A looooong while.  Since my goal hadn’t changed of keeping my weight under control, I needed to change my approach.  So I started running.  

Those of you that are also new to this, know all too well of what I am about to say.  I found muscles in my legs and back that I didn’t know that I had.  I seriously walked like a duck for several days.  The pain in my shoulder didn’t seem all that bad after enduring the shin splints.  But I kept at it.  

Now, I am back in the saddle, literally, as well as continuing to run.  I have lost about 20 lbs and managed to keep it off.  Well, I did have to draw the line on the occasional cheesesteak that finds its way onto my plate.  But I am doing it.  

So what does this have to do with learning or training in the office or even management?  Sometimes, we encounter obstacles.  Someone doesn’t agree with us, someone is demanding something that is not possible, or someone that won’t listen.  We can either keep doing what we have been doing and should then expect the similar results.  

Or we can try something different and run.


Ever watch Tiger swing a golf club?  Its a beautiful sight.  Everything is in perfect and calculated motion.  And even though he strikes the ball with such intensity and velocity, it really doesn’t appear all that violent.  Why?  Because it is fluid.  

After the club strikes the ball, his head doesn’t jerk up to see where it lands.  His arms follow a fluid motion after the ball has left the tee on its long journey to a green far, far away.  Nothing jerky and sudden.  They follow the path that was begun when his arms were coiled up behind his shoulder.  

Now have you ever watched Michael Jordan hit a golf ball?  My neck hurts just watching it.  

Managers often tend to forget that people are watching them….very closely.  They say one thing and then do something else because something came up.  And lets face it, most managers do not own their day; their day owns them.  They spend the day putting out fires.  So it is understandable that they intend on doing one thing, but end up doing something else.  But it doesn’t make it ok.  

But wait a minute, HR called and they are wanted the DPS reports right away.  And then someone screwed up the numbers for the Pensky file.  And then there was the….well, I think you get the idea.  There is always something.  Know what?  Life sucks, get over it.  Being a manager is a thankless and tough job.  You have your superiors to keep happy as well as all of those that report to you.  There is never enough time and too much pressure to make it worthwhile.  But tough, its your job.  You accepted the job so suck it up and do it.  

But what about Tiger and his golf swing?  It is predictable.  It is practiced and it is fluid.  While many things will come up in your day that you cannot control, there are somethings that you can control.  Identify what you can and follow through.  When you say that you are going to do something, follow through like Tiger and complete what you begin.  And if something happens that is unavoidable, then make sure that you do not make excuses.  

Just do it.

I tell my 6 year old daughter to get in the car, what would you expect her reaction to be? 

She would get in the car. 

You tell a bunch of adults how to extract data from an existing database, what would you expect their reaction to be?

“Why are we extracting data from that database?” 

Often times, I find myself sitting in presentations wondering why am I listening to this? Usually I am asking myself that question because no one has bothered to tell me why I am there?  Is it going to help me do my job?  Is this a corporate policy?  Are all of the cool kids doing it? 

Adult learners are far more likely to engage in training if they know why this stuff applies to them.  Now, hopefully, the reason is more reaching than “its required”.  And sometimes it comes down to that.  But without understanding why this material is important, the message tends to get lost very quickly. 

Not only do we have a responsibility to deliver content, but we need to assume some responsibility for creating an environment for learning.  We know how to do this thing that we are talking about, otherwise we wouldn’t be the one talking.  But we also know why its good stuff, the learner doesnt know either. 

Without setting the stage and explaining why this stuff is important to them, we are asking the learner to get into the car and not telling them where they are going, and who wants to do that?  Well, unless you are six.

I recently came across this video on Digg and I had to share it. Its about 5 dangerous things that we should let our children do and it really makes alot of sense.  Its great for everyone to look at because it gives us another perspective on learning and seeing things.  Check it out here http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/202 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. 

Happy New Year!  The year is a day old, how many have blown their resolution?  Com’n, lets get those hands up.  Don’t feel bad, you have alot of company.

How often do we set out with the best of intentions, only to have our plans foiled by some evil does in finance?  Or the HR person reminding us of a policy that could impact our well laid plans?  So we decide, “Oh, the hell with it” and scrap the idea.  Explaining to everyone that it wasn’t going to work out or maybe just blaming it on the executive team saying, “You know how it is with the suits; if it makes sense, they don’t like it”.

Kinda sounds like some poor planning.  Forgetting to plan for disasters or diversions can hurt, but so can not budgeting time or planning for problems.  Budgeting time is often where great ideas fall apart.  Try breaking goals into smaller chunks so they aren’t as intimidating.  Focus on getting to the next step, not just the ultimate goal.  Going a year without being late to a meeting is really hard, going a day without being late is alot easier. 

So maybe this years’ resolution needs to become today’s resolution.  If you blow it, there is always tomorrow. 

Hiring people is a tough job. 

I have hired quite a few people in my career and there is no exact science to it.  Thats why we have the HR department.  But the HR department can only help you so much.  You need to be clear about what you are looking for in an applicant.  Hiring managers is a great example.

We have all seen poor managers that are really “nice” people.  They are alot of fun to hang out with and have no problem just doing all of the work themselves because “its just easier that way”.  But they struggle to make that jump from co-worker to supervisor. 

Or the new manager that takes their new title and runs with it, focusing more on their new title and less on their actual responsibilites.  I bet we all have quite a bit of experience with those managers!

But what about the manager that was really good at their previous job and they got the management job because of how well they did their old job.  Is past performance always an indicator of future success?  Nope! 

So what do you do?  This comes back to good ol’ fashion mentoring and training.  First, make sure that you have a very understanding of the position that you are hiring for.  Is the applicant clear on what is expected in this role?  People will tell you anything you want to hear in the interview so plan to review the responsibilites after you have made the hire.  And then plan to spend some time with this person as they aclimate to thier new job.  Give alot of feedback and don’t assume anything.  Point out the good stuff as often as possible , it makes it much easier to hear the not-so-good stuff. 

And of course, use other resources.  Get other peoples’ input on your applicants and new hires.  A new hires’ success is a reflection on you, so don’t just look at them as someone taking work off of your plate, rather, as someone that represents you!

I got a new job!  To tell you the truth, this was not one of my smarter moments but I simply had a gutful of the ………nevermind, I just decided to quit.  Had nothing lined up, I just quit.  I have never done that before.  I did give notice but I was feeling like there was little point in me coming in everyday.  I was being viewed as a Powerpoint person rather than as a training professional that might actually have some good ideas on how to diseminate information.  And life is too short to not feel valued so I told them that they needed to find someone better suited for what they needed. 

I was on “vacation” for 5 weeks at home driving my wife nuts but I was fortunate enough to land a great new gig at Blackboard as a Training Consultant.  So that is why I have been a little quiet as of late. 

Anyway, I am building up a head full of steam and getting ready to spew some more thoughts on management and the training of adults. 

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