Enter the panic zone…

As a trainer I am keen to ensure that learning and development actually takes place and this often requires people to participate in activities that are outside of their ‘comfort zone’. This is the zone in which we feel comfortable in because it is familiar and not risky. However learning rarely takes place in this zone because we don’t ask questions and aren’t curious. In order to learn we need to commit to coming out of here and entering into the ‘learning zone’.

Too far out of the learning zone, however, and we can be in danger of being in our ‘panic zone’ in which learning is also not possible. This is due to the heightened sense of anxiety and fear that we have about past experiences. We bring these feelings to the forefront, which then blocks our ability to take anything in.

In one of my training sessions recently there was a delegate who I felt was struggling with some of the activities that were included. I also sensed negative body language, which was being noticed by others in the room. Without wanting to single them out I offered subtle, additional support. However, this did not help this particular delegate who refused to participate in one final, important activity. This was a key opportunity to put the learning into practice but I feared that he had entered his panic zone.

My question here, I suppose, is should that delegate have booked onto the training? If the individual concerned found it difficult to venture into the ‘learning zone’ on the topic in question then will the training have been of any value? Would it have been better for all those involved (including the other delegates) to book a one-to-one coaching session, rather than a group setting, so that specific issues can be worked through?

I have slightly tweaked the course so that in future I am able to clearly outline the range of activities involved and that participation is important for personal development.

Finally I leave you with a quote, which I thought is quite relevant:

‘If you want to feel secure Do what you already know how to do. But if you want to grow… Go to the cutting edge of your competence, which means a temporary loss of security. So, whenever you don’t quite know what you are doing know that you are growing…’ (Viscott, 2003)

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