“I quit!”…”It has been six weeks since I quit chewing tobacco.” This is what one of my participants recently told me in one of my leadership training sessions. We were in week seven of a twelve-week leadership course.
As a trainer one of the most important things I do is create an environment where people are excited about learning the material I am teaching. I can do this a variety of different ways. It is done through how I open sessions, the relevance of the material, the examples I use, the facilitation of them applying the concepts taught, how I close sessions, transition sessions from one to another, and most importantly, creating a connection between the material and how they can use it to get better results than they have been getting.
When training is done well, the participants learn something new because they see how it can help them do their job better. More importantly than that to me is, when they see how they can apply what they have learned to make a better life for themselves.
In a twelve week training course, where we spend 3.5 hours together once a week for twelves weeks, we cover a lot of concepts and techniques that can make the participants a better communicator, a better leader, how they can reduce conflict in their life, and a lot of other things as well. In addition, we will cover how to become a more disciplined person in all areas of our life.
The value of a training environment is it provides a place where you can go and focus, even if it is only for a few hours. This focused time is more time than most people find to focus on doing just about everything in their life. It allows time to reflect on the concepts we are teaching, but it also allows time to reflect on other areas of life and how to make changes in those areas.
When this participant shared with me that they made a decision to quit chewing tobacco, something they have done their entire lives, I was really proud of him. He said, that when we were setting goals for the course, he decided that this was a goal that he should pursue as well.
Keep in mind, I am not teaching people how to set goals on how to quit bad habits. However, when training is done well, people will see a connection between what is being taught and how they can apply it to other areas of their life. And that is what he did.
Maybe he was already thinking about quitting anyway. Maybe he was fed up with the costs financially and health wise, from this bad habit. Regardless of what it was that compelled him to quit doing it. He made it happen.
What is even more profound is that after a few weeks of him quitting. He noticed that several people on his team quit doing it as well. And he has a very large team of a hundred people or so, on an off shift.
Think about this for a minute. If you are around hundreds of people, for fifty and sixty hours a week in a high stress environment. Do you think after years of doing this, that the team, and the people part of the team, will have similar habits? Absolutely. We are all products of our environment. My mentor told me that I will become the average of the five people I spend the most time with.
When this leader made the decision to quit chewing tobacco, his team noticed it. A leader is being watched at all times. You set the stage. If you are a mess, your team will be a mess. If you are an ass, the chances are your team will have those tendencies as well. When he decided to quit chewing tobacco, those on his team that chewed, said that they can quit as well.
This is a great example of why leadership is not for everyone. As a leader you have a big responsibility. I make the connection with parenting. More is caught, than taught. Subordinates are watching what you do and how you do it. Kids are watching their parents and what they do. What do you want them to see?
To your success and your future.