This week I was blessed with the opportunity to spend two days in a resiliency course designed to help give me tools to combat internal stress, external stressors, and physical limitations that affect my home and work life. Sixteen hours of breathing, hunting for the good stuff, and practical applications that will improve my personal and professional relationships with those I love and am forced to deal with daily.
Because I was a Master Resiliency trainer and had hundreds of hours of training, teaching, coaching, and mentoring in this program, I am confident this was what should have happened. It is a worthwhile program, one that I would be happy to announce to the world that has a solid foundation in science and thorough research.
Until my recent experience, that is.
On Tuesday morning, I showed up to the class bright-eyed, bushy tail, fortified with a large coffee and a brand-new pen and notebook to take notes. I was anxious to see how the program had developed and improved since I taught my last class four years ago.
I walked in- the projector was working, and the slides were already posted. Each seat had a lovely notebook full of practical applications, and there were even doughnuts! I sat and mentally prepared myself to be in receiving mode while enjoying an apple fritter.
Getting paid to become a better person. What could be better?
Sixteen hours later, I walked out of that class in a ball of pent-up anger, disgust, and disappointment. A program that I had spent years perfecting my delivery, teaching points and continuing education had been downgraded to a counseling session for my instructors.
Within the first 32 minutes, I sat through a poorly thought-out sales pitch on how resilience has reformed, retrained, and renewed the personal life of the instructors and how they applied their knowledge to raising their children and spouses. They bragged about the additional training they attended throughout the country to improve their teaching abilities and understanding of how mental and physical resilience has impacted corporate America, law enforcement, and the armed forces.
The introduction was a battle of wits, a verbal ping-pong of stories. Each instructor attempted to one-up the other on how horrible their lives had been before the course and who had better implemented its material.
And that was the enjoyable part. The rest was a series of misfortunate events that included no scientific data to prove concepts because ‘that is boring.’ None of the practical exercises were completed ‘because it was time-consuming.’ Rather than explaining the complex theories with a detailed outline, personal anecdotes were used instead. And this may have worked if one was prepared to go off script. But both seemed to want to ‘wing it’ and ‘read the room.’
I watched videos of white river trips, scaling ice glaciers in Alaska, and family camping vacations to prove that one must be physically fit to be resilient. Because everyone knows you can’t be mentally tough until you face blizzard conditions in Alaska. Right?
I listened to a 30-minute story about a teenager traveling, without permission, to the mall at night and how her parents were upset because they had to pick her up. After all, she didn’t have an emergency backup plan. We just glossed over the fact that the parents didn’t know their kid was out of the house. However, it was a teaching moment for them because now they have a preparedness kit under their beds. What?!?
Those were not all the stories; I am unwilling to share most of them because they were so wildly inappropriate for the class and the material that I almost walked out three times.
How did a worthy class designed to help law enforcement and the military deal with personal and organizational stressors become a whitewash of hugs and ‘it’s everyone else, not you?’
During the instructional period, I was informed that my thinking was wrong. My parenting skills are lacking. I don’t get enough sleep. And I definitely should not have eaten the doughnuts they provided.
And all that in between the heart-wrenching stories about extraordinary losses, medical concerns, addictions, and financial woes that the two instructors have overcome. It was a Netflix-worthy program that left me feeling like my issues were not worthy enough to upset me or cause stress.
Disappointment is an understatement of how I felt walking out of that room. Despite the constructive criticism, which revealed clear, concise areas for improvement and how it was designed to function, the students were instructed to ‘stay in their lane.’
The un-trained pusdo-professional was the leader of all things resilience, and we should only be so lucky to be at her level.
I am now distracted from the program’s intent in favor of what I see as a self-serving 16 hours of ‘all-about-me-time.’ I feel disappointed that it doesn’t matter because we checked the block on mandatory training.
It has taken me two days to gather my thoughts and reexamine my own personal bias. And here is what I have come up with:
Resiliency is a personal journey that is different for each individual. What works for me may not work for the next person. However, people can use the tools in the toolbox to help fix and maintain their physical and mental health. Resiliency trainers are there to provide the tools- not the fix!
Teachers, trainers, and leaders…. when dealing with such a complex theory as resiliency, we must be willing to put in the additional time and effort to ensure that we provide an evidence-based program that serves a multicultural and generational audience. Programs have been designed to be followed because research and data show that information should be presented in specific ways and through certain events.
Don’t go off-script! Save the glorification of self for your biography or the Oprah show.
Does anyone know of a good resiliency course? I find myself in need of one.
Anyhoo, in case you missed it, I am an inspiring author. I will include the link to my first book if you want a copy or need a last-minute gift for Saint Paddy’s Day. I mention Irish folklore in it, so it fits the holiday.
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