I have been on many training courses. In all transparency most have happened because someone else has suggested I attend…as opposed to me identifying the opportunity myself. That having been said, it was always me who went, me who engaged and me who learned…whatever the topic.
My training events have covered everything from presentation skills and report writing through stepping up to supervision and career aspiration. And in most every case, even now, I can clearly remember themes and moments, coaches and fellow participants…with great affection.
My ‘training action learning cycle’ is always much the same. I start off somewhere between sceptical and confused…I participate and engage…and I end up educated, converted and a passionate advocate. Every time.
I have done Myers Briggs training some seven or eight times…in different settings and with different teams. Myers Briggs is a ‘personality typing’ process. As a participant, I answer questions individually – questions that indicate how I operate, behave, think and contribute – and then we look together at how our team comes together by sharing, comparing and contrasting our individual styles, approaches and ways of working. Always good, often eye-opening and consistently high added value.
There is one Myers Briggs parameter (out of four)…’Judging or Perceiving’ – one parameter on which my assessment tends to vary every time. In effect this parameter assesses whether I am more organised in how I live and operate – Judging or J in the parlance – or more flexible – Perceiving or P.
My scores always tend to be in the middle of the sliding scale. Everything else is clearer and more obvious. My ‘J’ vs. ‘P’ is right on the edge. And this creates all sorts of interesting and confusing discussions with the experts. ‘Think about your natural approach’ they say ‘rather than your adapted approach’…nope – doesn’t help. ‘If you are walking in a forest do you find yourself looking at the wood or the trees (I know – honestly happened).
Eventually this dilemma was resolved for my by a long-time friend and colleague who asked me a very different question. If you and your family were going for a weekend in Paris would you book a hotel in advance, near tourist sites, restaurants and coffee shops…or would you just get on a plane knowing that it’s Paris and that – come what may – you’ll have a wonderful time.
‘I would research and book of course’ was my immediate reply…’how could anyone do anything else?’ He smiled.
‘I knew that was your answer’ he said. You are so much a ‘J’ – you like to plan and organise’. ‘Me though’ – he added – ‘I could no more do all that planning in advance than I could flap my arms and fly myself to Paris’.
He was a ‘P’…all instincts and flexibility…intuition and adaptability. Very different from me.
And yet we enjoyed working and socialising together. And we were always being asked to work together on teams at work. And we were sometimes very successful…or more accurately we contributed to our team’s successes.
At which point I immediately recognised the value and opportunity provided to me by this particular training course. It wasn’t so much about me, or him, or her, or them…it was about us. What we all brought individually to the team, how we could help ourselves and our project (and our project sponsors) by playing to all of our strengths.
And above all how we could avoid the energy sapping problems that arise when we assume or require that everyone works and thinks in the way we do.
That having been said…our families still haven’t been to Paris together…