Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”― Muhammad Ali

14203239_10205800962457331_7350841119475870421_n An organization is an intangible thing, an invisible repository of will and competence; organizations exist in the thin ether of our actions and values. But there is nothing abstract about the people who make them up. They dream, worry, attend meetings, call on customers, and phone home. You can weigh them, poll them, and clock them. It makes sense that when an organization learns, the locus of that learning is the individual and groups of individuals.

The term “personal mastery” may just be another way of saying “learning,” but I  must be clear about the kind of learning I  mean. It is not just the accumulation of technical and functional information, but the wise and beneficial use of that information. This is an important qualification, because it introduces the issues of self-knowledge and personal values. Here is where we find the answer to the riddle of the learning organization and the reason that the learning organization (as a whole, functioning entity) is so important.

Transcending Our Inherent and Learned Limitations

  “The last thing we learn about ourselves is our effect.”- Ben Kizer, one of the great civic leaders .  Personal mastery entails honing our effectiveness in the world through brave self-observation. It also involves creating a high-tension energy field in one’s life by facing the truth of current reality and boldly envisioning something different: a future of one’s choosing. The creative tension is where the juice of mastery comes from.

Through the ages, sages have testified to the virtues of the examined life and lamented a mind left untended. The following are the observations of three of them.

Those who know much about others may be smart, but those who understand themselves are even wiser.—Lao Tsu

You could drop a leaflet or a Hubbard squash on the head of any person in any land and you would almost certainly hit a brain that was whirling in small, conventional circles. There is something about the human mind that keeps it well within the confines of the parish, and only one outlook in a million is nonparochial.—E.B. Whit

I truly   believe that “personal mastery” is as good a name for the lesson as any. Liberating ourselves from the conditioned, automatic responses to life that endlessly loop us into the same frustrations is one of the hardest things that we can ever attempt. Accepting the need for this is a recognition of what it means to be human. Dealing with this reality is always worth the effort, because even the smallest successes are immediately rewarded with proportionally greater personal freedom. This, in turn, leads to greater creativity, productivity, satisfaction, joy, and expanded life possibilities.

Although the task is difficult, people regularly accomplish even greater goals. Changing one’s world view, says Livingston, is actually easier than overcoming chemical dependence, and people break such deadly habits all the time.

The Effect in Organizations

One person inside an organization ( a trainer) on the trail of personal mastery would be good news for that organization. Think of the ripple effect. Two people would be even better, and the implications of ten people struggling with the ways of personal mastery are even more exciting because of the dynamics of critical mass. The cumulative rate at which individuals within the organization change themselves in pursuit of personal mastery defines the rate at which the organization can change.

Personal mastery is very personal, revolving as it does around the unique mechanisms of the mind. It is challenging enough at the personal level. In the organization, the challenge is compounded not just by numbers but by the fact that no one can choose the pursuit of personal mastery for us; we must choose it for ourselves. Nevertheless, it is a challenge that people and organizations must face if they are to survive individually and collectively. Organizational leaders who have the courage to confront this issue will need all the help they can get from the training profession.

The challenge can be described as follows:

  1. Because of the rapidity of technological change and global competition, becoming a learning organization is now the real ante of doing business.
  2. The pursuit of personal mastery by individuals is the essence of the learning organization.

Unfortunately, the practice of personal mastery by an organization’s employees remains a taboo subject for management. A manager who addresses an employee with, “Excuse me, but I think you need to improve your personal mastery” will likely be as welcome as a religious pamphleteer at the door on Saturday morning. As Peter Drucker says, managers have no business messing with their employees’ minds. I must disagree with Drucker. Although I believe that organizations should not stick their noses into the private lives of their employees, I do not think that you can separate the person’s work from the person.

The notion that we have a work life and a personal life is a dangerous illusion. Each of us has one mind, one body, and one spirit, and we take them with us wherever we go. We do a lot of messing with one another’s minds; it may constitute the majority of human affairs. Every time a manager says “Thank you” or “You did it wrong again” to an employee, the manager is messing with the employee’s mind. Every bonus paid, every new team assembled, every reorganization effort is an exercise in messing with minds. The challenge, again, is to do it responsibly.

By practicing personal mastery as individuals, trainers and other HRD professionals will make their practice more forceful than any sermons they could ever preach on the subject. Happily, the discipline of it will almost inevitably confine one to constructive, ethical interaction with others.

The question is “How do you pursue personal mastery?”Components of the Discipline

The answer is that the biological and psychological force of habit is so great that you must have a discipline.

The personal-mastery technology I propose (O’Brien & Shook, 1995) rests on four adaptive skills:

Raising consciousness – means not just thinking, but thinking about thinking: noticing and managing the workings of your mind so that your mind will not run away with you like a startled horse.

 Imagining- When you “imagine,” you create a mental picture—the most vivid image you can—of an outcome you desire. It works, and you do it all the time. If you are typical, however, most of the imagining you do goes by the name “worry.” This most common form of imagining leads not to something you want but to something you do not want, and it works depressingly well.

Framing and reframing –  are the foundation of human experience and the essence of personal freedom. They mean interpreting the world, deriving meaning, and assigning significance to the events of life. When the Greek Stoic Epictetus noted two-thousand years ago that it is not the events of life that matter but our opinion of them, he was talking about framing and reframing. You do not have to think about anything in any particular way, but some ways of thinking about things are more helpful than others. Learning to frame and reframe means learning to see things in the most helpful light.

 Integrating new perspectives. –  What we see depends on where we stand. And where we stand—that is, the view of the world our senses present to us—is profoundly influenced by the biases of our families of origin and the hands that fate has dealt us. However, each of us is not stuck with just one world view. We can get new ones any time by learning to integrate the perspectives of others. In this sense, the points of view of other people rank among life’s most priceless gifts.

The Impact of Personal Mastery – It probably is not possible for someone to engage in these activities without impacting events around them, without creating powerful and effective relationships with others. But any words that someone who pursues personal mastery could speak about these things would be pale next to the things themselves. In the story of Pinocchio, it is the master’s love and the behavior of love that brings the puppet to life. It may be that way with personal mastery. Only to the extent that we are willing to step into these practices and give them life do they have the potential to shape our destinies and those of the organizations we form.

All this is a matter of considerable importance to organizational leaders, to trainers, and to organizations. Many organizations currently are trying to change themselves from the outside in, by reengineering new organizational forms into existence in the hope that structure alone equals performance. I  doubt that it does. The catalyst missing from such efforts is the inside-out change offered by personal mastery. I doubt that the best team players can be made by teaching the external strategies of teamwork alone. To be constructive members of a team, people must examine their attitudes about collaborating with others, resolving conflict, coping with mistakes (their own and others’), dealing with anger and fear, and so on. That comes from the never-ending pursuit of personal mastery.

When the leaders of an organization sincerely embrace personal mastery themselves, they will automatically begin shifting the parent-child relationship between management and workers to adult-adult relationships. Although the former is still the dominant organizational paradigm, it is the latter that holds the power to drive truly empowered workers and an organization that is capable of continuous learning and fluid response to a dynamic marketplace.

…Just a few thoughts



know how

15195989_1140922826006123_8790694217671068748_oAre you  soft skills trainer? Or HRD? Or is it the first time when you have to evaluate?  This post deals with the following issues Why, What, How, and Who?:

Training Evaluation

The issue of training evaluation raises several questions:

Why is evaluation being done?

What is being evaluated?

Who should set the learning standards?

Who will be conducting the evaluation, i.e., who will judge the results of the training (participants, facilitators, both of these, outside individuals or groups)?

How is the evaluation to be done, i.e., how will results be monitored/evaluated? By what measures? By what criteria?

The answers to the first two questions will help to answer the overall question: “Should evaluation be done?” Evaluation is not always necessary, and unnecessary evaluation may not be a good idea because it is time consuming and expensive and because it generates expectations that something will be done with the data obtained. So the answer to the “should” question almost always is either “Yes, if . . .” or “Not
unless . . . .” Yes, if it is driven by a purpose: to determine something or to justify something. No, if the results will not be used, if the trainers or the client do not care what the results are, or if the subject matter or results may be too sensitive.

img_2555 The purpose of  is to obtain information. Before initiating or agreeing to an evaluation effort, it is wise to ask: What kind of information do you need? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer? What questions will give you that information?

The impetus to begin training and development in an organization often comes from management’s belief that training is an important benefit to employees, that it is a worthwhile investment and that it will help employees to fulfill their potential. However, management also hopes that it will increase personal and job satisfaction, increase motivation and productivity, and decrease turnover. In today’s organizations, the emphasis often is on “the bottom line,” return on investment. Managers and others who contract for training programs need to understand that it is impossible to measure the effects of training in such terms. One would have to measure all the other factors in the organization, over a stipulated period of time, in order to determine what part training played. Obviously, this would be almost impossible if not merely more time consuming and expensive than would be realistic. However, many managers still ask for training to be measured in terms of “increased productivity” or “effect on morale” or similar results. The HRD staff must educate such people in the realities of measurement and research. Behavior does not change in the moment at the time of training. A host of personal and organizational factors affect how well the training “takes” and whether changed attitudes or behaviors are permitted, supported, and reinforced in the workplace. Too often, the people who expect an evaluation are as confused about what is to be measured as they are about why the evaluation is being done.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaai6aaaajgvhyzq0mmmzltzlymutndrmys1imjnjlty0mtexztk5odlmywProbably the best reason for evaluating training is to help the facilitators to examine the design and to improve it, if necessary. Probably the worst reason is to prove that the training was worth the time and effort that it took. If those who are sponsoring the training (this problem occurs primarily in organizational contexts) do not understand the intangible effects of human resource development, the trainers would be wise to educate them or to seek work elsewhere.

What can be measured realistically is whether the participants were satisfied with the training; whether they felt valued because of having been offered the training; whether they thought it was interesting, helpful, or useful; and whether they think that they will use the skills, change their attitudes or behaviors, or have achieved some type of self-development as a result of the training. Some discrete skills also can be measured in a short period of time.

The most important thing in deciding to do evaluation is to be clear about why you are doing it, what or whom you are doing it for, and what or whom you are evaluating. Evaluation done for the purpose of justification is different from evaluation done for the purpose of documentation, and that is quite different from evaluation done to determine something.

The evaluation forms or survey materials should be geared toward obtaining the responses or the quantity and quality of information that you need. For example, justification might include the need to show that the trainees were satisfied with the training. The evaluation form then would not ask “Were you satisfied with the training?”; rather, it would contain questions such as “Which activity (or part of the training) was the most satisfying?” The report then could say that the data shows that ____ percent of the trainees found ____ portion of the training to be the most satisfying. For documentation, you may need to show that so many people attended, that there was follow-up, that the training was timely or what was requested, etc., or you may need to keep a head count in order to show that so many people were trained per year or that so many managers were included in the HRD efforts. In order to determine something, you need to frame the inquiry so as to elicit useful information (e.g., What other job skills would be useful in this training program? How do you plan to use this training?). The techniques used to obtain information for evaluation purposes are basically the same as those used to obtain information for the needs assessment.

Some examples:

End of Training Questionnaire

Instructions: The organizers of this program want your frank evaluation of its value and how it was conducted. You need not write your name on this questionnaire; no attempt will be made to identify the responses of any individual. It is hoped that your replies will be useful in improving future programs. For each multiple-choice item, write a check mark in the box next to the response that is most appropriate for you. When comments are called for, please print.

  1. I regard this program as:

        o Very valuable for my work.

        o Definitely useful for my work.

        o Somewhat useful for my work.

        o Of little or no use for my work.



  1. The instruction in this program was:

        o Very interesting and highly effective.

        o Fairly interesting and reasonably effective.

        o Marginally satisfactory.

        o Boring—should be improved.



  1. The best feature of this program was
  2. The feature of this program that I found least satisfactory was
  3. The investment made by my organization in my training in this program:

        o In the long run will pay big dividends.

        o Should be considered worthwhile.

        o Is neither good nor bad.

        o Should be considered a waste of money.

  1. To someone in my situation, I would recommend this program:

        o Enthusiastically.

        o As very good.

        o With reservations.

        o As something to avoid.

Suggested Format for Questionnaire
To Be Administered Some Months After Training

Instructions: Sometime ago you participated in (give title and place of program). The organizers of this program are interested in your present evaluation of the program and the degree to which it has been helpful to you in your work. Please print all comments.

  1. Read the four responses listed below and check the box next to the response that best indicates how useful the program turned out to be in terms of helping you in your work:

     o Indispensable.

     o Valuable but not indispensable.

     o Somewhat useful.

     o Of no value.

  1. The most useful aspect was                    
  2. The part that was least useful or least satisfactory was


  1. During the training did you establish a goal to achieve at work? Check the appropriate box.

     o Yes

     o No

  1. If you answered yes, what was the goal, how did you attempt to achieve it, and what were the results?


  1. If you achieved your goal satisfactorily, try to estimate the dollar value of your success to the organization over a period of one year.__________
  2. What suggestions do you have for improving this training?



  1. List topics or areas that should have been included or emphasized more strongly so that the program would have had greater value for you.


  1. What topics might be dropped or given less emphasis?


If the training facilitators are not to be involved in the evaluation phase, they should be permitted to assess the evaluator methods and to know who the evaluators will be. This is necessary for two reasons. The first is that one cannot design effectively until one knows what will be evaluated. When the goals of the training and the outcomes to be measured are specified clearly and are related to each other, the training staff has a clear notion of what to design for.

The second reason to ask questions about evaluation before beginning are related to professional ethics if not self-preservation. If it is not clear that the evaluation has a realistic purpose, that the proper issues or people are being assessed, that the methodology suits the purpose, and that the evaluators are qualified to conduct the inquiry, then the facilitators may well question whether they want to accept a training assignment that will be evaluated inappropriately

Best regards,

And have a joyfull December


Kirilka Angelova