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Thursday 30 March 2017
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A backpack trainer's benefits in travelling

Shruti Nair, November 04, 2016
“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” These words hold the secret to becoming the best trainer in the field. Yes, you heard me. I speak of a soft skills trainer – a ‘Backpack Trainer’.

Travelling makes you grounded, humble and empathetic. I do not speak of a tourist who stays at hotels, booked by a client, and catches the next flight after a training session, or someone who visits a place only to spend the day in lavish resorts. I speak of a traveller who packs his bag and treks through wilderness once a year.

Travelling has many benefits, especially if you are a trainer. There are a few skills that every trainer needs to be the best in their field. These are what travelling can teach you:
Listening: Knowing how to listen to participants’ opinions and needs, and knowing when it’s time to interject to either ask a question to enable awareness or to assist them to question something in a way they might not have before.

Travelling teaches you the power of listening – to nature, to the locals, to your inner voice and most importantly, the value of being listened to. When you travel, you begin to value the time you spend with people, to hear their opinions and ideas on subjects.

Being at peace with silence: This means knowing that the room does not always have to be filled with a voice or with noise, that there needs to be time for reflection and that for some people, it takes longer for the penny to drop than it does for others.

A well-travelled trainer will not only understand silence but value it, sometimes even more than a discussion. Many a times, people have the knowledge and information within them but have never had the chance to introspect.

Speaking only when you need to: While facilitating, it is important to know when to speak from your own knowledge or experience on the topic, instead of pontificating.

You must know when to encourage someone else to speak from their experience, something that might throw some light on the situation even if this person has not spoken before.

When a traveller gets into a conversation, he knows people need time to open up and has the patience to wait for it.

Having spent days in the wilderness, you learn that everything takes its own time and that you must give them that time. This skill comes naturally to a traveller-trainer.

Being comfortable in being challenged by others: When in training, you will always find participants who challenge you – with reason and without.

In such cases, a trainer needs to be able to handle these people smartly, without offending them or hurting their spirit.

A traveller loves challenges! They face challenges much less from people but more from circumstances that are created from the unstable nature of travelling. Hence, they will be up for challenges in the training room too.

Being authentic

You cannot pretend to be someone else when standing in front of a group. You must be yourself.

Authenticity comes naturally when you travel. You find out things about yourself that make you who you are – now these may be good and bad and a traveller knows that he can’t be good at everything. This kind of ideology brings authenticity to the table.

Knowing that you are not always the expert: Being a trainer does not mean that you will be right all the time. But, the need to be right can prevent you from growing as an individual.

The only way to learn is to jump in and see what happens – no ego, no fear; just an acceptance of yourself, your knowledge as well as ignorance, and everyone you work with.

If a trainer can embody this, it makes it easier for participants to follow suit. A backpack trainer knows too well that he is not an expert and that no one ever is.

When you travel, you invariably meet many people who show you different perspectives to a point. A good trainer always looks for people who will show him a perspective different from his.

People who travel turn out to be the best trainers in the field. While education also matters, travelling educates you by teaching you lessons of life that no book can. That’s the stuff great training sessions are made of!

(The writer is Content Development Manager, Work Better)

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