Beyond the classroom: cultivating compassion in professional development

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Debbie Green looks at our own development in L&D, as well as some tactics and tools that can help with communication, collaboration and wellbeing for our sessions too

As learning professionals, we have a privileged position to identify what people might need to be able to create the right environment to thrive. Being able to support people who attend our training sessions or workshops and give them the time and space to explore and navigate their way towards the life they want, with kindness and compassion at the heart of every interaction, can be life changing.

There is never a right or wrong time to create the life that we want. It’s within each of us to be able to move forward in the direction we want to go. Kindness is key. Being able to recognise that you are important and that you deserve to live the life you want can be tough for some of us. But with a little kindness, a few daily steps, and perhaps some training or coaching, we can all adapt and create a healthy and happy life.

Where are you today?

It’s important for all of us, both trainers and trainees, to take a moment every now and again to consider where we are and where we want to go. Taking time to develop what the next 90 days will look like for you will help you create structure, routines and new learnings.

Start by focusing on where you are now, and what you will take forward that will serve you well and help you. Next, decide how you can get out of your comfort zone and start to think about the things that will push you into your stretch zone. Avoid the panic zone at all costs as this can stop you in your tracks.

Think about the things you’d like to experiment with and see if they work for you. You can work out your own strategy. Start to focus on the opportunities that will inevitably present themselves to you, because trying out new experiences will open new doors and windows of possibility.

Small daily steps

The best way to move forward is to start with the simplest of tasks. Just one small step. Then the next, then the next.

But you also need to give it time. If your focus is to go to the gym and get a six-pack, you won’t achieve that in a month. But you can move for 10 minutes more a day than you have been doing, and then build it up.

Setting mini targets each week will help you get to where you want to be, and ensure you’re in control of the process, not the other way round. Remember it can take anything from 20 to 240 days to create a habit that sticks. In my experience the more beneficial the habit, the longer it takes to establish, whereas unfortunately we all pick up less than good habits (ice cream in front of Netflix, anyone?) almost instantly.

Prompting a pause

If you are a learning professional and you’re running training workshops there are various prompts and tools which can be used as an icebreaker, for an energiser session, conversation starter or to help people to get to know each other. I use a variety of different prompt cards with clients and for training sessions from ones with pictures showing emotions to motivational quotes.

They’re a great way of getting to know the people in the room better – and yourself too. From a people motivation point of view, prompt cards are also a great tool for all company meetings, away days, or as a way to check-in with your team one-to-one or as a group to find out how they’re really doing.

Taking five minutes for yourself to pause in your day can have a dramatic impact on your wellness, resilience, energy, focus and motivation. Giving yourself a 10-, 15- or 30-minutes break by stepping away from your desk to enjoy a cuppa or take a walk outside will give you the time and headspace to reflect and reset your day.

Prompting kindness

Using a prompt card is also a great way to check in and give yourself a moment of kindness. How are you feeling? What is the one thing you want to achieve today? How can you make today better? What can you learn from today? Just stop, pause, take a break, check in and then move forwards a little brighter than before.

Bring the best out of yourself by speaking in a kind and caring way. Catch the negative self-talk and flip it to a positive narrative. Notice how you can set yourself up for success by creating your own 90-day plan. Ensure that you have mini milestones along the way, these should be celebratory moments to recognise your achievements. Pause to reflect and reset. Remember to capture what you are thinking and how you are feeling as you strive forward with purpose and intent.

More than anything, be kind to yourself and know that you are capable of great things. Not only will this help you be an amazing learning professional, it will also help those around you too.

Debbie Green is founder and wellness coach at Wishfish, co-host of Secrets from A Coach podcast and inspiration for the Coach Kindness Cards

Debbie Green

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