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20 reasons training experiences should be more like vacation

Hello again! It’s Monday morning and I’m back, fresh off a two-week vacation to the east coast of the United States, visiting family. Toward the end of my vacation, I posted the following on Facebook:

Vacation Photos

This was my 6th or 7th summer at Squam Lake in New Hampshire. My wife’s family has been going there for four decades.

It got me thinking a bit about training as well. Not only should life be like the images in the photo more often than not, training experiences should be as well. Does this mean we should allow our learners to just sit around for two weeks, not accountable for anything? No.

But enjoyment and effective training are not mutually exclusive. Here are 20 lessons that I think training design should take from fantastic vacation experiences:

  1. If it’s really enjoyable, people will want to come back again and again.
  2. People can only sit around, doing nothing, for so long. At some point, they pine to be more active.
  3. Sometimes a shoestring or some odd looking rocks are a lot more engaging than a computer or iPad.
  4. On the other hand, if you want to catch the Olympics, technology needs to be involved.
  5. When it comes to lunch food, people can only eat make-your-own-sandwiches (or sandwiches in a box) or pizza so many times before they get sick of your culinary choices.
  6. There can never be enough chocolate chip cookies.
  7. Trying new things can be really fun… as long as appropriate safety measures are in place.
  8. Splashing around in the lake can be fun, but sometimes people need to hike up a mountain in order to get a more panoramic view and fully appreciate the entire picture.
  9. If people only square dance once a year, they may need some reminding when it comes to the various steps. More regular practice would lead to much less embarrassment for everyone involved.
  10. Doing the same activities can lead to a sense of comfort… but also monotony. Sometimes new activities or variations into the routine need to be introduced to keep everyone on their toes.
  11. If you don’t get out for a hike or swim after lunch, then it’s nap time.
  12. Sometimes the best way for the kids learn how to dive head-first into the lake (or do 1.5 twists off the diving board) is not from their parents but from other kids.
  13. It’s amazing what you can find out about what others are thinking of their day’s experiences when you sit with them and talk over lunch or dinner.
  14. There’s no shame in asking someone else’s help when you’ve tried backing your camper into the camp site 673496674 times without success.
  15. Driving 8 miles up Mt. Washington is scary as hell.
  16. The vistas along the way make it worth it.
  17. Sometimes an activity for the day is much better in theory than in practice.
  18. But you never know until you’ve tried it out… just chalk it up to experience and don’t do it again.
  19. Spending some time reflecting on various experiences can bring new insights to the surface.
  20. Your attitude about the day, the people you’ll be with, the stuff you’re going to do and the unexpected stuff you’ll encounter will make all the difference between a really good experience or a really, really bad experience.

It’s summer (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), which is generally vacation season. What lessons from your recent summer vacation would you add to this list of things that should be incorporated into training design?

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