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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

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Pig-headed or Pygmalion?


Ever found yourself pootling along; head down, doing your best to make sure you & your loved ones ended each day with a smile? 

Then BANG! Out of left field, life happens. It picks you up, slams you into a brick wall & leaves you dazed by the side of the road; head spinning, wondering quite what happened to take you to this spot?

You check. You can wiggle your toes. You can see. You can hear. You can think. Any yet, everything is all so very, very different.

The world looks the same, it sounds the same, it even smells the same. But it doesn't feel the same.

You feel disoriented. You feel uncertain. But most of all you are really not sure that this new tentative 'you' is one you feel comfortable being. Where is the person who knew what to do just a short while ago?

If you have been through an unexpected change, there is a good chance you will recognise this description. You will probably know each stage of the Kubler-Ross Change Curve. The denial, the anger, the depression all stand in the way; minefields to traverse if you want to feel acceptance & move forward.

Even if the change is one you have craved, often we still feel a little wobbly on our feet; wondering if the world will see the 'new you' the way we long for?

Almost of all of us will recognise this experience; we will nod & say "yep, that happened to me." Some of us will be able to smile at the recollection. For others the memory will still be too raw.

Yet how many of us recollect such an experience every time we step in front on a room full of learners?

As the trainer we are excited. We are enthused. We know a fun day is ahead for all. We have some fabulous material that will make all the difference to our learners. We are confident that it will be a worthwhile experience for all.

But, let is take a moment to reflect, great training is about changing mindsets & behaviour. It is also about chucking our own mini version of a life-changing curveball at our learners. We are saying we want you to change; we need you to change.

How often do we remind ourselves of how that feels? How often do we think about the time when faced with change we dug our heels in & said "no, I refuse to change"? How often do we recall how our pig-headed response was softened & turned into a quiet, but then more confident enthusiasm for the new way of looking at a familiar situation?

The chances are that most times when we faced change, our attitude to it had to move from a pig-headed refusal to budge & onto one that embraced change. 

The reason for the transformation in our attitude? 

Most likely it's the Pygmalion Effect. Or in other words the more that is expected of us, the better we perform.

Don't believe me? Think back to when life has chucked you the curviest of curve balls. Yet here you are today older, wiser and a little bit more capable than when the challenge came looming into view. What was the deciding factor in your acceptance of the new world? Was is that it was simply a great idea? Or was it because we could see that someone else truly believed that we could achieve what was being asked of us?

So next time you step into a room full of learners, take a moment to recall what unexpected change feels like - the fear, the uncertainty. Then set the bar high for what you expect of the people in front of you. They will be scared, they will be nervous; some will even doubt. But the biggest confidence boost of all will be the fact that you expect them to achieve. 

Go on, you know you can :-)

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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