For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed learning – whether it’s learning something new and different, or learning something new and different about a topic in which I already possessed some knowledge. I confess: It’s a rush for me.
To my knowledge, I’ve created no knowledge. With few exceptions, I learned everything I know from others. The exceptions? They happened when I made a mistake and did not understand some odd results. Digging into the results provided knowledge I gained on my own. I learn from my mistakes.
I started delivering training while serving as a Spec-4 in the Virginia Army National Guard. The short-ish version of a long story is: I was working in a Combined Support Maintenance Shop (CSMS) as an electronics technician, mostly repairing portable military radios. Virginia suffered a large flood in 1985 which affected several National Guard armories. When the waters receded, CSMS sent alarm technicians to repair systems, and they returned several systems to our radio shop. As the n00b, I was assigned to work on them. I learned a lot while working on the systems and suggested a change I thought might improve the design.
I was unaware a training course on these systems was being developed. I was also unaware that the engineers who designed the system were seeking trainers to lead the training right around the time my suggestion was forwarded to them. “Let’s get this guy to train folks,” they thought.
Just like that, I got to deliver training for the first time. I was young and inexperienced, but I made up for it by being over-confident and mouthy. I made plenty of mistakes. I learned from many (though not all) of my training mistakes.
For the first time in my career, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing troubleshooting experience and solutions and watching as attendees’ eyes “lit up” when they “got it.” Helping others learn was a rush as intense as learning myself, maybe more so.
I later became an instructor at ECPI, an institution that helps people – especially former US military people – skill-up in electronics, IT, and (now) many other disciplines. I was trained by a legendary instructor named Mr. Knight (not Brian Knight, for whom I worked later and from whom I also learned a lot). Mr. Knight mentored me. He also meta-mentored me by mentoring me about mentoring others instead of merely “throwing teaching at students.”
Mr. Knight’s methodology involved immersion. And empathy. And, in the end at the front and throughout, serving and love. It turns out I had been preparing for Mr. Knight’s methodology already, though in an unexpected way.
In the context of delivering training at the National Guard Professional Education Center in North Little Rock Arkansas, mentoring from Mr. Knight was a career-altering experience.
Identifying with students is key. Empathizing with their desire to learn something and struggling with one or more concepts is key. Loving people for who they are is key. Serving them because they exist and are image-bearers is key. Am I saying you have to be a Christian to be an instructor or to deliver training? No, I am not. I am saying being a Christian informs and infuses everything one does, including delivering training and instructing.
My goal is to do everything as if I am working for Jesus Himself. I am honored, humbled, and blessed to work in a field for which I have passion.
This is why I love to stream.