Consider me your accountability coach. I’m here to challenge your thinking . . . specifically, to challenge you to give yourself the same energy you give to your learners. I’ll pause here and let that sit a minute.
Trainers and facilitators by the very nature of what we do are some of the most selfless and passionate individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. We give up sleep and convenience, we’ll bypass lunch and adequate breaks to make time to help our learners, and we’ll give to our learners what last bit of energy we have. We will bend over backward to “show up” for our learners in the most authentic of ways. But let me ask you: When was the last time you gave yourself that same attention and energy?
Are you making time for your own learning and development? And if you’re reading this and wondering, Does it matter?—I’m here to remind you that yes, it matters!
We must continually remind ourselves that we are practitioners at our core. As a necessity, we should be ongoing learners. But how do we make time and prioritize our own learning over our passion to help others learn? More importantly, how do we find the discipline and energy to allow ourselves to become learners? How do we show up, sit down, and give in to the fine art of learning?
As trainers, we aim for more moments of self-actualization in our classroom, hoping to help our participants arrive at their own discoveries and even planning the mini-parade when they do. More learner motivation! More ahas! More behavior change! And in that fearless pursuit, we forget that we too are learners; and if we don’t forget, we merely shuffle it down the priority list because we show up for our learners more than we do ourselves.
That stops today with these steps!
1. Map a learning path for yourselfA learning road map allows us to prioritize and dictate our professional evolution and plan for it accordingly—which, if we’re being honest, vastly benefits our learners. Start with a small chunk of time (such as three months) and build out from there. I aim to have an entire year mapped out. To help you get started with this, ATD Education has designed the Career Development Stack to support your career progression by enabling you to build a personalized learning pathway.
2. Plan early and align your plans with your organization’s goalsIf the new budget comes out with the new calendar year, I’m starting my next year’s learning conversations the summer before, or in Q4. I’m securing the budget; setting my schedule; and establishing buy-in that my development is a priority for me, for the learners, and for my organization. This kind of forward thinking sets you up for success in putting your learning first. In some cases, this also means setting aside personal funds to help reach your goals.
3. Check in with your network and peersReaching out to your professional network and peers can stimulate some great ideas for your own personal development. Aim to curate a variety of answers to the following questions: How do they approach their development? What courses have been instrumental to their development? What areas of interest in the learning and development field are areas of opportunity for you?
4. Become accountableBecome accountable to someone . . . anyone. Me, your partner, a co-worker, your hair stylist, anyone. Let someone know what you aim to do, and allow them to celebrate you when you put your own learning and development first.
And because we all know that getting started is half the battle, I’ve started the ball rolling for you. Take a look at what some of my network and peers shared in response to some of the steps posed above. And remember: Yes, you matter!
“My development plan is always based on the market need and my inner passion. I have found great value in Train the Trainer courses, as well as courses on emotional intelligence, blended learning, and coaching skills.”
—Joseph Matta, Youth Trainer and Coach
“I approach personal development in various ways, beginning with finding people I can learn from in my field and asking for their insights and feedback. I established buy-in from my manager on day one; he saw my passion for the role and is committed to supporting my own growth as a trainer. Right now, I’m interested in learning the process of building a training program from scratch (hire a team, build out courses and materials, implement, and evaluate).”
—Patrick Dixon, Operations Trainer–CPI Security
“Being a lifelong learner, I try to take every opportunity to expand my horizon by learning something new, and I don't restrict this learning to only my field. As a facilitator I am also fortunate to be able to learn a lot from my participants even as I facilitate programs for them. I am always looking for new opportunities for learning and growth by facilitating as many different programs as possible, targeting different areas of expertise. I also undergo certifications whenever possible to acquire new skills and knowledge, and lastly, I always keep myself open to new experiences and people!”
—Seema Nagrath Menon, International Speaker, Coach, Facilitator, and Senior Learning and Development Professional
“I definitely struggle to prioritize my own learning because there are so many other demands for my time. I do two main things to help me make my own professional development a priority. First, I schedule time every week to read books, articles, research reports, everything I can get my hands on. Second, I attend industry conferences to network and learn. I plan every year to attend at least one conference, and more if I’m able.”
—Cindy Huggett, Consultant, Facilitator, Author, Speaker