Fed up of "conquer the world in five days" programmes?

Updated: Feb 1


I know this is going to be controversial but I need to get something off my chest. I am fed up of the constant barrage of adverts for programmes that over promise and under deliver. Now, don't get me wrong. I run programmes that last 3, 5 or 10 days but I make it clear that that is just the content bit of the learning. I leave gaps between sessions because I know that participants need time to test out their new knowledge/skill, time to practice, and yes, sometimes to get it wrong. Having been a training and development practitioner for more than thirty years I know that there are very few problems that can be solved in such a short time span, and this is why.


On average it takes 19 weeks to change a habit. That is consistently doing things differently, in a conscious way. You will fall off the wagon a few times but then you get back on course and carry on practicing the new way of doing something. You may take a programme over 5 days and learn lots of new skills and techniques but it is then, that the real work starts.


There are lots of theories and models that explain the physiology and psychology of how we learn but basically there are 4 core steps that can ensure we learn in the shortest time for us;

  1. Learn the new skill in your preferred way. Some are hands-on experimenters who learn best through trial and error, others are theorists, who need to read and understand first. Many are a blend of both, so check that the programme you choose will fit your learning preference.

  2. Break it up into bite size chunks and be conscious that you are substituting new ways of doing something for old. Practice, practice and more practice will help embed the new knowledge/skill quickly but make sure you reflect on when you get it right and not just when you get it wrong.

  3. Have someone to support you. They can act as a sounding board, give you positive reinforcement and help you work through problems that crop up.

  4. Be patient with yourself. It is easy to give up and revert to the old way of doing something when things don't go to plan but this is the very time you need to push through with the practice.


When you learn anything new you have to move through these 4 stages of awareness/competence. You begin by not knowing what you don't know (Unconscious Incompetence). That wonderful moment when new information comes across your radar and wows you into wanting to make it your next habit.


Next, you start to practice getting it wrong more often that you get it right because you haven't learnt how to yet (Conscious incompetence).

You add some discipline by practicing, noting that the more you do it the better at it you get (Conscious Competence).

Until you become so skilled that you don't have to think about it, it just comes naturally (Unconscious Competence).


There really is no short cut to this process but the prize at the end is worth every bit of effort. You have improved yourself and your situation!


To short-cut this process is to kid yourself that you can conquer the world in 5 days. The programme may be the starting gate but for most people it is miles away from the finish line. Quick fixes rarely exist in human learning and habit forming.


We live in a society addicted to instant gratification. A time when we can get what we want, when we want it. The problem is that no one has told our brains that when it comes to forming a new habit. If you are skeptical about this ask anyone going on a diet or trying to give up smoking or alcohol.


If you want sustainable results then you have to put the effort in to practice, reflect and get support from someone you trust to embed the new habit. Then you might just have a chance at conquering the world, but is likely to take you longer than 5 days.


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