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




proper-preparation-prevents-poor-performanceAfter contracting with clients, assessment is usually the next step in the process. Assessment involves collecting information from the client and others in order to provide the client with feedback. The feedback is then used as a guide in preparing an individualized developmental plan, which provides the foundation for the actual coaching process.

Self-assessment tools (see Exhibit 1) are given to clients so they can better understand themselves and their behavior. Some tools are focused on overall personality or “style,” while others concentrate on a particular aspect of personality, such as how conflict is handled. Various forms of 360-degree feedback provide information about the client from other members of the organization, customers, or partners. (The term “360” refers to feedback from all around the client, from bosses, peers or customers, and below.) The information is gathered through a series of structured interviews or standardized instruments or a combination of both. Once the information is gathered, the coach/trainer summarizes the information, highlights strengths and challenges, and gives feedback to the client. The themes that emerge provide information to the trainer/coach and client on what developmental needs to address during the training engagement. Observation is also useful in the assessment process; the trainer is able to see the client in a real working situation, for example, leading a meeting or making a presentation.

Exhibit 1. Selected Assessment Tools

Self-Assessment Instruments
•   Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

•   I-Speak Your Language

•   Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)

•   FIRO-B

•   BarOn EQ-i

•   DiSC Classic Profile

360-Degree Feedback Tools
•   CheckPoint

•   Profilor by Personal Decisions Incorporated (PDI)

•   Individual interviews

•   Staff meetings

•   Other meetings

•   Presentations

The tariner can then provide direct feedback while the event is occurring or immediately afterward.

Internal HR professionals can be helpful to external tariners/coaches because they know what instruments and assessment tools the company routinely uses as part of an overall development program and which ones the person being coached has already completed. Coaches will not want to duplicate the company’s assessment process, but may want to provide some additional tools beyond what the company provides.

In the next few sections, I explain some of the tools and their usefulness to trainers. I address self-assessment tools, 360-degree feedback instruments, interviews, and observation.

Self-Assessment Tools –  are useful in pointing out the client’s specific behaviors, interpersonal needs, and styles.Trainers decide which tools they want the client to complete, based either on information from the initial interview with the client or on a predetermined set of instruments that are given to every client. My list is built on the instruments that I currently use. However, there are many more instruments that other tariners use.

The FIRO-B measures interpersonal needs in three areas: inclusion, control, and affection. For each of the three interpersonal needs, the FIRO-B provides a measure of how much each need is expressed or wanted by the client. The results show the various ways the client interacts with people. This tool, in combination with information from other assessment tools, can help the trainer and the client identify patterns of behavior that comprise the client’s leadership style.

Two surveys of personal styles that are based on the personality typology developed by Carl Jung are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and I-Speak Your Language.

The MBTI is better known and more comprehensive. The MBTI reveals the natural preferences of an individual or a team for focusing energy, gathering information, making decisions, and orienting to the external environment. I-Speak Your Language measures the relative likelihood of using each of four basic personality styles: Intuitor, Thinker, Feeler, and Sensor. Generally, a coach would choose one or the other to give to a client, not both.

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) is used for understanding how people deal with conflict. The TKI helps the client discover which of five conflict-handling modes the client prefers to use, which may be overused, and which may be underused. Trainers can help their clients understand their preferred mode(s), the most appropriate uses of each mode, and how to expand their conflict repertoire by increasing their comfort level with least-preferred modes. This tool is easy to administer and takes about fifteen minutes to complete. Certification is not required.

DiSC Classic Profile builds on the work of William Moulton Marston. He theorized that human behavior could be studied based on a person’s actions in either a favorable or a stressful environment. The four dimensions that he identified are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. DiSC shows clients their individual behavioral styles and reveals the environment that is most conducive to success. It can be difficult to interpret. Certification is not required, but training is important to fully understand the results.

BarOn EQ-i is the first scientifically validated assessment of emotional intelligence, which can be defined as the capacity to create optimal results professionally and personally through our relationships with others and with ourselves. The assessment is administered online and provides scores for overall emotional intelligence and for five major scales: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Stress Management, Adaptability, and General Mood. There are also scores for fifteen subscales. Links between high emotional intelligence and effective performance have been demonstrated. Emotional intelligence can be learned, and a coach can use the EQ-i results to shape the client’s developmental planning. Certification is needed to understand how to interpret the results.

360-Degree Feedback Instruments . The various 360-degree feedback instruments allow clients’ managers, peers, and direct reports to answer survey questions and provide feedback on the clients’ specific behaviors and skills. Trainers should check to see whether the organization has a current and completed 360-degree instrument for the client. If so, the coach may decide to supplement or update the information by interviewing a small sample of the client’s circle to confirm the client’s leadership style, strengths, and challenges. The information is shared in the feedback phase of coaching. If the client has not completed a 360-degree instrument, coaches usually recommend tools with which they are most familiar or that are best suited for the organization in terms of cost, amount of data, and ease of understanding. There are dozens of 360-degree feedback tools; I am presenting only a small sample.

CheckPoint, by Profiles International, covers seventy specific job skills, which fall into eight major competencies and eighteen skill sets. The survey takes twenty to thirty minutes to complete. The resulting report is colorful and easy to read and understand. The report includes a developmental section that guides the client through specific activities that address developmental needs.

Interviews is my preferred method of collecting 360-degree feedback, as I can gather richer and more comprehensive information. I can easily customize my standard set of questions to reflect the preliminary concerns and issues I have heard from the client’s manager and/or from HR. However, interviews are time-consuming and, when the trainer is external, may not be cost-effective for the organization when multiple clients are involved. Whether the trainer  is external or internal, when multiple clients are in the same department and use one another as peer responders for feedback, interviews may place too great a time burden on the responders.

Observation – Some clients benefit from having their trainers observe them in a meeting or giving a presentation. Trainers can give the clients unbiased opinions and helpful hints on how to improve the style and manner. Trainers and their clients decide which meetings would be useful for the coach to observe. Often they will choose staff meetings that the client leads. Sometimes clients want their tariners/coaches to observe them with customers or with their peers. In the ongoing training  sessions, trainers will sometimes role play difficult situations with their clients. If they have already observed the client in a similar situation, the role play can be geared to highlight the specific behaviors the client needs to improve. Similarly, when trainers help clients prepare for a presentation, there is no more important data than having observed the client giving a previous presentation—whether at a staff meeting or in front of a larger audience.





Face the conflict

Today I will share with you one of the most valuable international project that was hosted here in Bulgaria and yes I was the TRAINER
Training Course “Face the Conflict”in brief .
Participants from Spain, Italy, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Lithuania gathered together in Bankia, Bulgaria in order to discuss different methods for conflict resolution and management during the project “Face the Conflict“. Another successful training.
My job was to create and to implement the right activity and theory according to the program from the beggining to the end – 10 days. And of course to work with the group as a trainer, the methodology that i chose to use was learning by doing, learning by feeling, case study, debrief sessions, feedback, evaluation, self and group evaluation, video analiz of the behavior, hendouts…I love to do projects that challenge me, and hopefully in turn challenge the audience, or open their eyes to something they’re not aware of.

This training course was valuable not only as a practice and theoretical knowledge but as well as it changed the life of our participants.

“The genuine feeling that you could rediscover the human feelings within yourself, through training, small talk, big talk, through serious and very unseriouss interactions. How nice it can feel to be human, to feel that you can enjoy being true to others, and most importantly, yourself. The thing that really makes my heart go a bit bleeding (yes, exactly like the guys that didn’t want to vote “Guilty”), is that the training, and overall experience was so fulfilling, so complete in its own nature, that you could cut bonds with your everyday routines, emotional patterns, and just enjoy the Cruise of happiness with our trainers, and rest of the one-of-a-kind personalities that there were. Leaving your everyday thoughts behind, and just being surprised, how happy you can be (as it is in my case)
It is so rare that you can find the environment where all can nurture each other with their honesty and exchange of true happiness, and help each other bloom to a full flower of their beautiful personalities.”A small paragraph written by one of our participants.

By doing we learn by feeling we even learn more

As a group dynamic trainer my job is to design and to implement the right program to the particular group, according to the goals, objective, topic, and of course according to the group needs and expectations.
There are many training technologies, including instruments, structured experiences, role plays, case studies, simulations, and games. All can be used to create an interaction between the theories, models, and concepts presented and the realities of everyday life. In considering the goals of the training and the conceptual input to be presented, the trainer must decide what balance there will be between cognitive input and experiential learning. Then, with a complementary balance in mind, the trainer can decide how this will be achieved. Will the cognitive input consist of lectures, readings, handout,? Me personally I always use handouts. Which experiential technologies will work best? There are various effects of each alternative, and these must be considered carefully. Above all, the trainer should not choose to use a structured experience, role play, or case study simply because he or she likes to do it. The case study is an effective way to illustrate concepts and reinforce theory. It also presents and allows for various points of view. If the trainer’s objective is to help the participants to use concepts to analyze situations and make decisions, the case study may be the best alternative.

It is a long procedure and process to create the program is the same process and procedure to implement it as well. There are different circumstances that the trainer have to keep in mind while creating and implementing the program for example the day by day sessions: first third and fifth days are the challenging one for the trainers, but again this is my point of view.

The group behavior and reactions?
The hardest part 😉
I can explain why – on the first day of training – when we talk about the training that is 7 or 10 days with group of people who don’t know themselves and are with different age, background and work and life experience, different culture – first day is the one that is for braking the barriers and getting to know each other. Of course in this particular day, people sit next to the one that for example is from their country, and they are hiding themselves as much as they want and can. Day two is for this to get in to the topic and to see ourselves in different situation to get out as much as we can from our comfort zone. Day 3 is to show to the trainer that we are the smartest and the best 🙂 day 3 is when we know each other better and we are group, so we are acting as a group. … and so on and so for.
In my previous post I share with you my last project under Erazmus + with the topic “Face the conflict”, there was one comment about what kind of activity I used. I am not going to share them the program was created, delivered, implement from me and I am not sealing my job for free, but I am going to share the methodology that I used with photos from this particular training:
Experiential learning (learning by doing) the purpose of experiential training is to let participants feel the learning as well as think it, to let them “try on” new behaviors and new emotional as well as cognitive responses.
There are a number of different ways of changing people’s attitudes and of developing individuals’ behavioral skills. I will discuss some of them in this post: structured experiences, role plays, case studies, debrief sessions, etc.. These technologies have been used in to the Face the Conflict training and in 99,99% of my trainings.

A human being thinks, acts, and feels at the same time, but the three processes may not be congruent. The most effective way to communicate with or train a person is to reach the totality—the thinking, feeling, and behaving parts of the individual. Experience in the training and development field has made it clear that learning the principles of human behavior has little value unless it is supplemented by affective understanding and skill practice. The best kind of practice is performing under competent supervision in an atmosphere that is free of serious risk to oneself or others.

Creativity and risk taking : Still in our society tends to stifle creativity in early childhood, reinforcing thoughts and behaviors that are predictable, “realistic,” “worthwhile,” and “normal.” Throughout our lives, we are encouraged to be conventional, to follow the norms of the groups in which we live and work. Creativity—unconventional thinking or originality—tends to be expected only in “artists. „True creativity involves risk taking. Successfully creative people often have to work hard to push their ideas through the system. Personal orientations toward risk taking are formed from one’s experiences in life, successes and failures, and one’s perceptions about what one has to gain or lose. As one becomes more or less secure, one’s risk-taking orientation may change. People can change their styles in that they can decide whether or not to take more risks and to try out new ideas and behaviors. This is easiest to do if one also can place oneself in a supportive environment—one in which creativity and risk taking are encouraged rather than frowned on or feared. Individual growth experiences in a training also can encourage people to take more risks.
Role playing: Role playing is a technique in which people are presented with roles in the form of a case or scenario, then act out the roles in order to experience them for educational purposes. The ways in which these roles were approached by the role players then is discussed, and the action may or may not be tried again. Role playing is, then, a spontaneous human interaction that involves realistic behavior under artificial or “imagined” conditions.
Role playing generally is used for one of several reasons:
1. To practice behavior in preparation for a new role or an anticipated problem situation;
2. To examine a problem situation or past incident in order to learn how it could be/have been handled better;
3. To create insight into the motivations and roles of others or oneself.
In role playing, the emphasis is on developing new skills and insights and on solving and preventing problems. This differs from the lecture and the textbook approaches to learning, in which the emphasis may be on principles and determining the “right” answer.
With a real-life situation, one may never be sure that it was handled in the best way. The role play is a type of simulation in which a person or group can be introduced repeatedly to the same situation and can measure the effects of various behaviors. Because the situation can be repeated with various approaches, the impact of those various approaches can be assessed and discussed.
Thus, role playing demonstrates the difference between thinking and doing. Because the case study has a there-and-then content emphasis, it creates considerably less learner involvement than the role play and less potential for promoting transferable learning that is “owned” by the participants. The participants in a role play engage in actual behavior, confronting problems and other people. They receive immediate information about the effects of their behavior and about how they could act differently. Thus, they can relate the feedback to their actual ways of behaving in specific situations. This creates the motivation to inquire and to experiment with new behaviors.

Case study: It is important that all participants understand what is going on in the case before the trainer shifts the discussion to what should be done about it. It is not good to use case study on the first day with group that doesn’t know each other. Except to find the solution of the particular case, there is action planning some times to find the solution of the problem, but here we have a problem solving and decision making as well, all session with the case study have to finish with the debrief. Of course the most important is the Case that the trainer chose to use to be relevant to the group needs and background and skills.

The discussion that follows in the training is the core of the learning experience. It typically reveals various attitudes and habits that can be clarified, evaluated, and modified through group interaction. Observers can note not only what occurs in the role play but also their own reactions. For these reasons, the soft skills training has a wide utility in leadership and management development, training in communication skills, improvement of interpersonal relationships, and team development.

To see yourself in to different role, to open you eyes, to see and feel the reaction in to the safety environment (the training room) this is how you rise your sensitivity and try to act and react in to the particular issues to experiment with your behavior to learn by doing. This is the priceless. And again feedback: “The genuine feeling that you could rediscover the human feelings within yourself, through training, small talk, big talk, through serious and very unseriouss interactions. How nice it can feel to be human, to feel that you can enjoy being true to others, and most importantly, yourself. The thing that really makes my heart go a bit bleeding (yes, exactly like the guys that didn’t want to vote “Guilty”), is that the training, and overall experience was so fulfilling, so complete in its own nature, that you could cut bonds with your everyday routines, emotional patterns, and just enjoy the Cruise of happiness with our trainers, and rest of the one-of-a-kind personalities that there were. Leaving your everyday thoughts behind, and just being surprised, how happy you can be (as it is in my case)
It is so rare that you can find the environment where all can nurture each other with their honesty and exchange of true happiness, and help each other bloom to a full flower of their beautiful personalities. „ A small paragraph written by one of the participants.