During some recent travels I was lucky enough to meet a number of fellow travellers; we would swap stories, experiences, advice and occasionally share a beer or two.
Over a period of time, I was surprised to note that a number of these people were on a personal mission to ‘bag’ as many sights in the shortest possible time. I began to question whether seeing a snow capped mountain from the well beaten path was enough to be able to say that you have been there and done it? It was also interesting to note that from these fleeting moments, people quickly became experts on a particular area. They spoke with the apparent knowledge of a local, when really their ‘knowledge’ was regurgitated from a guidebook – cheap at half the price!
I know that I am not alone in having the view that travelling is about really experiencing a place for yourself and allowing the place, its people and culture to affect you in some way – otherwise why not stay at home and watch Michael Palin? Yet I met a number of people who travelled in a cocoon of routine, trying to replicate their normal lives as much as possible: eating the same food, having the same old conversations and seeing the landscape pass through the windscreen.
So, what does this have to do with Learning and Development? Well, I believe there are some strong parallels. Firstly, there are a lot of people with the ‘been there, done that’ mentality – they see their personal development as being about just going on a course, ticking the box and putting it on their CV instead of slowing down – stopping – to consider the range of opportunities it presents.
Secondly, I think that a development course can be a powerful catalyst or indeed a foundation to build upon, but real change and progress happens when someone immerses themselves in the subject, reflects and interprets it from their own perspective. Not just regurgitates what the text book says.
But, true development also means having the personal commitment to apply and refine what you learn and experience, and using this new-found knowledge to shape your progress and how you engage in the future. It often means taking a different approach instead of replicating what you have always done in every new situation you face. Finally, it’s about enjoying the here and now and not being averse to taking a risk. Learning and Developing are about doing things differently whether it’s as a result of a training course or just to make some footprints away from the beaten path.