​A Desire to Learn is the Key to Training Success

19th October 2011

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A Desire to Learn is the Key to Training Success

Have you ever hit what is known as the wall? The time when you are running a Marathon, for example, and you are just overwhelmed with exhaustion and loss of energy. You ask yourself the very pertinent question – why am I putting my body through this?

I haven’t run a marathon but I have hit the ‘wall’ when training for my new hobby of Triathlons and once I had overcome it (high calorie drinks normally do it for me), it got me wondering as to why over a period of less than a year I had changed from barely being able to run a mile to competing in endurance events.

In the end, I could boil it down to one simple factor – that of desire. Nobody forced me to do a triathlon or start running 3 or 4 times a week, I just wanted to do it. Doing something like running just made me feel good about myself.

Yet, how can we bottle this desire and use in the world of training? What truly motivates people to learn and get maximum value out of L&D?

A term originally coined by William H. Whyte in 1952 and further developed by Yale University’s Irving Janis, Groupthink is, according to Whyte and Janis, “a mode of thinking….when members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”

The legendary American football coach, Vince Lombardi put it well when he claimed that “the difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” How can we ensure that this ‘will’ exists in training?

While there are reams of books on motivation and thousands of people from ex Everest climbers to football coaches who have made a career out of it, as far as I’m concerned, motivation boils down to two simple factors –  the avoidance of pain and/or the acquisition of pleasure.

For many people, motivation is driven by potential pain – the idea that if I don’t do this I will suffer. If I don’t improve my fitness and lose weight, I’ll have a heart attack or if I don’t take this course and improve my management skills, I’ll never be promoted.

One of the most poignant but at the same time hard hitting advertisements I have ever seen came from British Airways and showed an elderly lady and gentleman in a cafe on a wet rainy day with the main phrase being “we never did go to Australia did we?’

It’s that ‘what if’ scenario and sense of broken dreams that can be an enormous motivating factor. How often have you been persuaded to do something by the phrase ‘you only live once’?

Go to Training Zone article

 

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