Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Pain of Learning

I am an eternal optimist. I always see the glass half full.

But today I’m feeling low.

Yesterday Annie and I delivered the 30th Trust Me I’m a Patient workshop. We have seen 1500 participants through our workshops and the evaluations – apart from the very occasional negative comment - have always been very good.

The workshop yesterday didn’t go well and some delegates said it just didn’t work for them.

We were devastated last night. We are probably wrong to take it so seriously when I look at current events in Burma and China!

Because we take our work seriously - and want to deliver a professional product that’s well received - is probably the reason we both still feel somewhat gutted 24 hours later.

Of course I want to learn from my customers. I often write on this Blog and in articles about the importance of responding to customer feedback and I must walk my own talk.

If our customer is not happy then I must look at the workshop and think about the message I am hearing from the customer.

Learning can be painful because it means we have not met our own standards.

My great life guru Professor George Giarchi always tell me ‘This Too Will Pass’ so I know we will be feeling ok tomorrow. For the moment we are using the weekend to reflect.

Already we have begun to think about changing the workshop with some new creative ideas.

The biggest lesson for me is that the best learning is often the most painful.


Anonymous said...

It can be difficult when you put so much passion, energy, and hard work into something and then you have a set back such as this. I am going through a similar situation at my work. I have poured my heart and soul into creating positive change. We have done some incredible things. However, we are also going through the most difficult time in my career. things can go wrong very quickly. We are all very passionate about our work, but intent does not always equal outcome.

I just read a chapter in one of my favorite books "The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer" In this particular chapter Art Berg talks about bad things happening in our lives. When this happens we always ask "why"? He calls this being a Why-ner. He basically says that pain is a great motivator. Those that never get past why-ning fail to grow and move forward. the set back can be a platform for growth or a ceespool for remaining stuck.

Your pain comes from your desire to provide a quality product for your customer. Your drive, commitment, and passion will give you all you need to learn and grow forward as a result of this setback. The best thing about you is that you do what you for other people. yes, it does feed you, but you do what you do to help others. This all but guarantees you will make the right moves. When you are winning is the best time to make changes, it creates the path for continued winning. Don't be so hard on yourself. You are a true champion of helping others. that will shine through Amigo.

Trevor Gay said...

Brilliant Rocky - thank you my friend - I really value that and your words - as always - are meaningnful.

'Those that never get past why-ning fail to grow and move forward. the set back can be a platform for growth or a ceespool for remaining stuck.'

I just love that - thanks :-)

Anonymous said...

I can sure relate to where you are coming from Trevor! Over the years I have come to put post class surveys and feedback into perspective. If they thought I was fabulous or horrible, they have given some great actionable if they elaborate on why they feel that way. If they don't, what can I learn? Like you I still beat myself up over those that are less than favorable...just for a much shorter period of time.

It's the fact that you feel the way you do about the occasional negative...that you care and put some much of yourself into what you do...that has resulted in the overwhelming great response that you receive for this presentation!

A glass of wine and some great company Will put it into the proper perspective!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dave – great feedback from you as a trainer for many years – it helps I assure you!

It’s easy to get this thing out of proportion – we’ve had so much great feedback and it is easy to forget that when we get the occasional negative comment!

I must learn not to catastrophise!!

Annie G said...

Actually we did buy a bottle of wine to cheer ourselves up but I was so deflated, I couldn't be bothered to drink it. The bottle remained unopened last night - a rare occasion in this household! We drank it earlier this evening though :-)
Hi Rocky and hi Dave - pleased to make your acquaintance.

Richard Lipscombe said...

I think I know this feeling... I have facilitated a lot of role playing workshops and I often found I was really down even after excellent reviews ... But those where the reviews are ordinary do sting more... What I have learned from hard won experience is that some times there is nothing YOU can do to get people to open their minds to your message... This is why I usually try to 'turn people's minds completely inside out' at the beginning of any of my workshops - I contend people can not learn anything until they become mildly confused because before that they do not know what they do not know..

Best of all though I leave you with this thought... I have often had people come up to me years after taking a post-graduate university course or a policy formulation/change management workshop from me... I never know who they are but they say this "so glad I have this chance to tell you what you did for me in that course/workshop I did not get it at the time but your way of thinking has stayed with me to this day - it is the best thing I have ever done for myself... Thank you, thank you, thank you...

You have that to look forward to - it will happen when you least expect it!

Anonymous said...

Annie- please know it is indeed a pleasure to "meet" you as well. Great to hear the bottle of wine did not last another evening, a sign that you two are smiling again hopefully!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Richard it's now 7.40 pm Sunday evening and life looks a whole lot better after a day gardening, taking the dogs for a long walk and trying hard not to beat ourselves up. We are back and rearing to go with the four workshops we have this week!!
You are right of course that we never know how much the training will help people – even it they may not see that on the day. I thank you for your encouraging and supportive words as always

Thanks also Dave - Annie will reply later – before our wine!

Joel D Canfield said...

Although I do believe the ignoring a complaining customer is like hearing a noise from the car engine and just turning up the radio, there's another truism: discontent has a louder voice than happiness.

For every dissatisfied customer there are probably quite a few who are satisfied. Besides the touchy/feely lesson there, it's a warning: be careful about changing anything based on complaints unless you're sure you aren't now breaking it for the silent but satisfied majority.

I'm sure there are also some excellent lessons here about which wine goes with which type of disappointment, but I'll have to do quite a bit more research before I report on the subject. (Of course, wine works best for business disappointments. When one of my songs isn't received well, Irish whisky seems to have the best palliative effect.)

Annie G said...

Hello Dave,
Bless you, yes we're smiling and soldiering on!!

I've written a piece on my blog, but I don't always share Trevor's eternal optimism so I'm not sure it's entertaining reading :-)

Trevor Gay said...

Brilliant comment Joel – Annie and I will take your advice and continue to research which wine goes best with which feedback – all in the interest of customer care academic research you understand :-)

Unknown said...

So sorry you two had this opportunity to learn an important lesson (or, most likely, several lessons).

I hate it when I learn important lessons - personally, I would much rather be fat, dumb and happy, inexperienced and out of touch. I'd rather not face complaints (valid or not) about my performance, my ideas, my books, etc. :)

In all seriousness, my condolences on the discomfort, but as a fellow optimist, I really must pass along my compliments and congratulations on successfully surviving said discomfort and coming out on the other side a bit wiser, etc.

I'll happily lift a bottle of my own in your honor this evening. Here's to learning!

Anonymous said...

Annie- I saw your post and left a reply. I'm thinking the four presentations this week will show just how out of alignment the planets were last Friday...the only thing perhaps that would explain the fact that a few saw something that hundreds of others found entertaining and valuable! Validation is a marvelous thing...

Trevor Gay said...

Dan - thanks for your support my friend - the wine helps - hope you enjoyed yours too :-)

Dave - I will do a report at the end of the week afer the latest batch of four - fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Trevor and Annie

Not much to add to what others have said, but it's clear from the way that you felt about the workshop feedback that you a) care about making a difference to people b)have set yourself high standards which you probably meet MOST of the time. Keep up the good work and remember this: form is temporary, class is permanent!

Take care of yourselves

Trevor Gay said...

tomjam – good to hear from you my friend and thanks for your kind thoughts – I hope you are well.

I often use the 'form is temporary ….' saying when describing my beloved Manchester United!!

Annie and I have reflected a lot since last Friday and the two workshops we have run so far this week on Monday and Tuesday have been fine with good feedback – so all seems well.

I know you will appreciate this story. A Nicky Gumbel’s sermon a year or so ago on the death and resurrection of Jesus when Nicky said … ‘It didn’t look good at the crucifixion’

I guess that is a brilliant reminder to us all from Nicky that when things look bleak …. The chances are they will get better.

Marilyn Jess said...

Dear Trevor & Annie,

May I add that while I've never had this type of response from a group I do know that the sting only lasts as long as you haven't learned the lesson.

In coaching we talk about readiness to change--in my mind that is also readiness to listen. The majority of that group could very well have been subject to poor morale and not ready to hear you.

I also agree that at some point later somebody(s) in that room will 'get it.' As trainers we never know when that is. I trust that if I did my best to connect, all will work out as it should in the end. Besides, you have great story material for other groups because of this experience.

P.S. Sonoma valley wine, any brand, is a great antidote to this type of training result :)

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Marilyn- very kind of you to comment.

We are over it now – we ran four workshops in five days this week and each one was well received. Last Friday must have just been a bad day!!

Best wishes from both Annie and me.