Winston Churchill is quoted as saying: “I’m always ready to learn, although I don’t always like being taught.” In the same way, I found that while good people always need encouragement, they don’t always like to hear cheerfulness. No one really listens to a person who insists on inspiring him. (I know I don’t know.) However, when cheerful conversations are seldom encouraging, reminders sometimes do.
So the rest is just a reminder. Let’s start with history.
The village of Pukuka was small. Dusty and inhabited by a scattering of huts, to the western eye, it looked as if it had just risen from the ground. But there was joy. It was 2010, and in the brief peace that had interrupted decades of war and religious oppression in South Sudan, churches began to emerge. And when a church was to be built, the village headman was almost always open to land donations, given certain considerations.
I was part of a delegation that went to Pukuku to take part in such matters. (In fact, I kind of pointed out.) When I listened to the talks, which were partly translated into English, it turned out that for the good of the village and human health, the price of land is three things: a well for clean drinking water, . In other words, it was water, training and health – in that order. At its core, Pukuki residents understood that clean drinking water would not make them sick, but training would help them recover.
Last year was difficult, but we should not pretend that we are in a special category of suffering. Most of us have a hard time understanding the difficulties of generations that other people are going through. However, no matter where we are in the continuum of troubled times, the lesson from Pukuki remains the same: this training will make us healthy.
In the midst of developing solutions and identifying delivery methods, HR professionals may lose touch with why they do what they do. Being busy has a way of overcoming meaning. This is not unique to the training industry; no matter what we do as people, we tend to fall in love with the process and forget about the goal. This is not surprising; after all, the process makes us experts and the goal, only poets.
However, in difficult times, as now, the call to the goal is not only pleasant – it is necessary. To paraphrase Victor Frankl, when people understand the “why,” they can withstand virtually any “how”. So as we exhale, take another deep breath and get ready to keep going on what still promises to be the hard way, a reminder of “why” seems good and right.
What we do
We can do what we do because someone has shown how. Apart from the autonomic nervous system and things like breathing, sweating and so on, our actions, both good and bad, are primarily the product of our learning.
Think about this statement for a minute. What a powerful learning force! It can promote prosperity, encourage enlightenment and make music fill the air – and it can do the opposite. An old Guy Clark song has a warning line that says, “He didn’t know he couldn’t fly, so he did.” Learning also has the power to steal dreams, trample ambitions and create darkness in the world.
Therefore, practitioners of this magical thing, called learning, must be not only knowledgeable in their work but also moral and hopeful in their practice. Practice is not always easy, in part because it is so important.
What it means
With the exception of God’s intervention, the only way to move from where we are now to the best is to learn the way to it. Prior to this pandemic, training professionals may have been concerned about the organizational impact of automation, humanity’s growing partnership with artificial intelligence or literacy level. Although these problems may have remained the same, their relevance has accelerated. When the world shakes, everything breaks.
But, deprived of their facades, the problems also become easier to see. It is no coincidence that much of the process improvement methodologies and accompanying toolkits are devoted simply to assessing the current situation. It turns out that it is difficult for people, institutions and organizations to look honestly in the mirror.
Now, however, the mirror is in front and in the center. It’s almost hard not to see an honest perspective. So in trouble there is a possibility. With training as an antidote and training as its application, the mission of the training industry has never been more significant.
For whom it is
School teachers say that in the eyes of children it lights up when they actually “understand”. Apprentices talk about the spring in the step of students when they pass the first test for competence. Corporate instructors talk about a question that someone asks from the back of the room, and that’s finally the right question.
If approached correctly, with due respect, learning is the way to go serve others. This service helps others take a positive step, which helps them take another positive step and then another. Who knows where they will go.
What an amazing story to be a part of. What a time to be a part of this. And, most importantly, what a good goal needs to be achieved.
Just a reminder.