I recently had a conversation with a colleague who has a background in professional training and instructional design. She loves using experiential learning to make training come alive, so her question to me was, ”Does your virtual training deliver the benefits of experiential learning?” I answered, “Absolutely!” and went on to explain that MIBOSO’s Authentic Personal Branding Program includes many experiential activities.
One requires participants to request input from others on a short list of customized questions. Of the thousands who have participated in our Authentic Personal Branding program, all report that this exercise yields an extremely high degree of experiential learning. Many also say they were astonished to learn that others possessed insights into their character, motivations and values that had eluded them up to that point in their lifetime!
In another part of our Authentic Personal Branding Program participants are required to introduce themselves to others by sharing their personal value propositions. (One or two sentences that clearly convey the unique value that they offer to others.) They are asked to first write it out as a draft, then test it with friends and colleagues, after which they revise, retest and practice delivering it until it’s “pitch perfect.” I have been told repeatedly that this activity also provides exceptional levels of experiential learning.
So when it comes to learning and development, those who learn the most by experiencing the most gain the most. And at times, those who learn the most also risk the most. The two activities described above can be a bit scary for people who are private by nature. So in other words, it’s not how quickly or easily you complete a training course that matters. What’s important is how you can apply the knowledge and insights you’ve acquired to achieve your personal and professional goals.
Here’s a comparison. If you book yourself into a “10 Countries in 5 Days!” bus tour through Europe, you will get the experience of sitting in a bus full of fellow Americans (or Canadians or Australians…) looking out at France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands (and whichever other countries are part of the designated ten) through a tinted bus window. There will be certain places you won’t see, as many narrow European roads simply can’t accommodate large tour buses. (At least not without taking out other vehicles, fire hydrants, parking meters, road signs, even slow moving pedestrians… and I don’t imagine you’d opt for that sort of tour!)
So you’ll follow a special “tourist route” that can accommodate your bus. You’ll dine at restaurants that cater to bus tours. And you’ll be fed food that “pretends” to be a French (or German or Belgian or Dutch…) specialty but is actually something rather international that appeals to the American (or Canadian or Australian…) palate. Anyone who has experienced a multi-day bus tour can attest to the benefits of everyone on board having settled tummies!
But if your goal is to…
- mingle with the locals in France
- enjoy bona fide French cuisine
- shop in the markets of Provence
- explore the backstreets of Paris
…you’ll need to find the kind of trip that delivers those experiences. And to get everything you want out of that trip, you may need to do some things that feel a little scary.
If you’re afraid of getting lost, for example, you’ll want to equip yourself with maps and other navigation devices plus be willing to ask for directions.
I became the “Queen of Lost” during a two month trip to South Africa a few years ago. I had an excellent road map and took pride in my navigation abilities, which always get me where I want to go in North America and Europe. But as only about half of the roads in suburban Johannesburg are marked, my maps became useless. The helpful directions I got from gas station attendants (and their customers) sent me in circles, right back to the same gas station, which was not anywhere near where I wanted to go.
I finally had to pull off the road, call a friend and describe where I was, so she could drive over to meet me and lead me home. Needless to say, I got over my fear of being lost. It even became something of a joke and I began building half an hour of “lost time” into every trip to a new destination.
So as you progress through your learning and development journey, keep your goals in mind and choose the programs that will deliver the experiences you want. And in addition to learning valuable skills, you may get to leave a few of your fears at the side of the road.