“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.”

So often we are asked, “How can I get my people to learn these skills and to do things the way I need them done?” We are brought into organizations to teach management or leadership skills, or various other professional development topics. We are hired by HR professionals, business leaders, division heads, team managers – all with the initial quest to download essential information to their various audiences.

We see this approach internally in many organizations as well. Managers, leaders, knowledge experts – they do their best to share as much information as they can with their respective recipients. Usually through one-way communication.

Unfortunately it doesn’t work this way. It isn’t possible to simply open up someone’s mind and pour in information – facts, figures, skills, knowledge. Our years of experience have shown us, and research has proven, that the adult mind is limited in how much it can learn in one shot, as well as to how it can learn it.

The best way to help someone learn something is to engage them in it. To make the information real, relevant, necessary, and even exciting to them. To make it personal – to ignite the fire within them so they want to learn. Share with them the WIIFT (What’s In It For Them) to change their behavior and/or increase their knowledge.

What makes this even trickier is identifying actually What’s In It For Them (not what would be in it for me, if I were the one who was on the receiving end). Our challenge, as leaders, managers, and instructors (and parents) is to place ourselves in their shoes to ignite their fire. Then they’re more likely to care…and to learn.

Where am I trying to simply download information? How can I share what I need to share in a more effective way? WIIFT?

Next time you’re trying to fill someone’s mind, stop and work to engage them in the concepts.

What lights your fire to learn more?
Please leave a comment to share.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For help in sharing information in a more effective way, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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