Before we get started, I want everyone reading this blog to take their mind out of the gutter. I realize that the Law of Desire sounds like a cheesy paperback novel you’d find on your mom’s nightstand with a picture of Fabio (is he still relevant?) and a half dressed woman on it. However, there is no law more foundational to adult learning than the Law of Desire. The cool thing about this law is it covers both the people who are learning and the people who are training, but in uniquely different ways. Let’s talk about the learner first.
There’s an old adage that states “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I love this saying but who knew it was so ambiguous and arguable? Whether you believe it has its roots in Confucianism, Theosophism, or Buddha himself (somebody did some research) I think we can all agree that it’s an awesome way to start this paragraph, can’t we? When I was young and first heard this saying I thought teachers must be like Yoda with magic powers and they just know when to appear out of thin air. Now that I'm older, I'm 99% sure Yoda isn't real. What I think the statement means is until a student is ready to hear something, has a desire to learn the information, no learning will happen. In other words, only when they want the information will they listen to the person who is teaching the information. No matter what you do, you can’t learn for your trainee. They have to want it for themselves. As everyone knows we cannot teach desire, so how do we make our training so appealing they will want to take it, or at least be curious enough to go to the training, no matter how skeptical they may be?
For starters, we have to outline the importance of the topic. The training has to seem important to them. I often say that the WHY is just as important as the HOW, meaning that today’s generation of learner wants to know WHY they are learning what they are learning (and WHY it’s important) just as much (if not more) as HOW to do something. It’s up to the trainer to explain the importance of the task. Which sounds better? “Jim we need to make sure we have them fill out that accounting form 8 or accounting has a fit. It’s pretty self-explanatory so let me know if you have any questions” Or “Jim the reason we need to make sure we help our vendors fill out the accounting form 8 is that without it, their payment could be severely delayed coming from our accounts payable department. If that happens then that business owner may not have any money for a while and may not be able to get us the products we need to stay in business. So here’s how to fill it out…” Yes, number 2 is the way I’d lean too. Now they know there is some importance to what they are doing and not just mundane paperwork. The other way we can get them to desire our training is to make sure that every program we create is relevant, compelling, and consistently good. Once your company learning function gets a good reputation for putting out really good programs, people will automatically take them more seriously and even look forward to seeing what you create next. In addition, have others from your company review, and in some cases, help give you crucial information to make sure your training products are hitting all the points they need to and not teaching the wrong things. Too many times we as trainers think we know what should go in a program but we forget to get input from the end–users. Form a Training or Learning Committee comprised of different people in different levels of the organization. That way you aren’t creating training programs in a vacuum and the committee almost sells the program for you! Hello win-win situation! Much like when my wife asks me if I want chocolate chip cookies or brownies. Either way, who’s the big winner? That’s right, John’s the big winner.
The second way this law is important is when it pertains to the folks who are training the trainees. When talking about the traits that make up a good trainer, no matter the industry, if you don’t list desire to train in your top 2 traits, then your list probably sucks as much as Training Binders. Many people believe you just take somebody who’s good at their job and make them a trainer so they can train others to be just like themselves. The problem with that is not everyone has the desire or the skill set to transfer knowledge to another person in a way they can digest it. Some people just don’t want to train others and they’d rather do other jobs. What you need to do is find the person that WANTS to train. That loves to train. Sometimes that may be your 2nd or even 5th best team member. If you don’t know who on your team wants that responsibility, try this crazy system for finding out: ASK! Yep, you will have to talk to people but it will be worth it in the long run. You’ll have people who have a desire to train and trainees that have a desire to learn. Once again, a win-win! And shouldn't that always be the goal of training? Thanks for having the desire to read this blog! Have a great day and make it count.