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Mind Platter

I listened to a fantastic ASTD webinar recently about “neuroleadership” or brain science applied to leadership. David Rock of The Neuroleadership Institute was the presenter. There was a lot of great content (if you’re an ASTD member and you missed it, I encourage you to track down a recording), but one thing in particular captured my attention: the Mind Platter.

It is a play on the recently revised nutrition model rolled out by the USDA, describing the components of a “healthy diet” of input for the mind. Mind Platter was only mentioned in passing during the webinar, but it is an interesting way to think about getting our brains the sustenance they need. I have been thinking about the role of each component in the design of training.

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What is training, anyway?

Like many smart, capable, professional people I had some opportunities to teach before I became a “learning professional.” One of my first jobs was working before and after high school as a tutor for a small group of disadvantaged third-graders. I got the job because I had good grades, was dependable, and because my younger sister vouched for me to the sixth-grade teacher who ran the tutoring program.

Learning did not become a focus for me until I took my current job, but I have taught in almost every position along the way. In one of my earliest professional roles – a research secretary at a medical college – I was asked to train the other secretaries on a new computer system. Our manager asked me because I was computer-savvy (being one of the youngest people in the department) and because I could explain things well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was also trying to find ways for me to grow my skills.

Many years later, I have taught managers and staff people, patients, physicians and people who are part of the community. There’s a saying that those cannot do, teach. But I don’t help people learn because I am not capable of anything else. I believe I was pulled into this role because of a talent for communication and a lifelong love of learning. What I have gained from being in a formal training role is a deeper understanding of the process of learning – its variety from person to person, how it is supported (or hindered) by a facilitator, and the many techniques, theories and approaches to making it successful.

This blog serves as a record of my journey from lucky novice to intentional professional.