“Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.” -Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Insights on Training From the Creators of NLP

When I was studying for my NLP Practitioners Certification, I heard an amusing story about the two co-founders of NLP. While they participating in the educational experience at a university in California, word got out that they were also teaching other people how to perform some of the early NLP patterns.

The dean eventually got wind of the dealings, pulled them aside and said:

“We understand that you’ve been teaching people how to do things. Is this true?”

There was no way to hide what they were doing, so they said yes.

The dean then asked them to stop their activities. Perplexed, the two co-founders asked why, to which the dean replied, “…this is an institution where people learn about things, not how to do things.”

I don’t know if the story is true, but it does underscore a fundamental difference between training and education. Education is traditionally concerned with assimilating knowledge about the world around us and about ourselves. On the other hand, training is focused on doing stuff, developing skills, and acting on knowledge. Not that one is more important than the other, but society tends to place more of an emphasis on education and downplays training. Both, however, are essential to the learning process.

Insights on Training From an Engineering Manager

When I got my first design job out of school, my manager, Rick, told me that we needed a school to train young engineers about the other side of engineering after they graduated from college. There were many things I didn’t learn in school. But most of these things were essential to being an effective engineer. Things like how to work with a vendor and select a part after we met the technical specifications. Or how to gather information from sales people to select a second source for a part. Or how to work with a difficult CAD designer who is laying the routes for the board you just designed.

We typically teach these kinds of activities by a process called “on the job training“. We don’t have an established, formal process for teaching these activities like we have for teaching physics or mathematics. They don’t correlate directly to gaining knowledge about systems design, creating algorithms, or analyzing chemical compositions. They also don’t directly affect a student’s ability to get a degree. So we don’t emphasized them in school. They are, however, essential to operating in the real world.

Insights on Knowledge and Training

The Dale Carnegie Course brings this into sharp focus. When we facilitate a program, instructors remind the participants that knowledge is not power. By itself, knowledge and information are static. However, when someone takes ownership of that knowledge and acts on it, they create a powerful combination that can change the world.

Knowledge without action is only potential.

Action without knowledge is unfocused and ineffective.

Action based on knowledge, however, can make a major impact in the life of the individual who is willing to take the risk and take action.

As you move forward in your professional life, ask yourself these questions to maintain perspective:

“Now that I have this new awareness, what can I do with it?”

“How can I use the knowledge that I have?”

What outcome do I want to have happen?”

“How will having knowledge help me get what I want?”

Remember that we are only as powerful as the knowledge we act on. Taking effective action requires a strong skill set. Developing a strong skill set takes effective training and lots of practice. So get some training, take action on your knowledge, and make an impact on the world around you.