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You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself. – Galileo

If you open your eyes in the morning and you are still breathing, then you are alive.  Every thing else is a bonus.

Part of my training as an Infantry Officer required me to go to Ranger School, which is primarily a leadership school for combat soldiers who want to join the Army’s elite light infantry fighting forces known as the Rangers.

When I went through Ranger School, it was a 68-day course.  There was the Benning Phase, The Mountain Phase, The Desert Phase and the Jungle Phase.  Ranger courses run all year long, I drew the unfortunate short straw of having to attend during the winter months.  I have never been so cold in my life (well except maybe the time I nearly froze to death in a snow storm when I was 14).

One morning we were huddle together like seals trying to stay warm.  We had on our Gortex winter jackets and we were still cold.  One of our Ranger instructors came strutting out of his command post and yelled,  “Take those Gortex jackets off men.  It ain’t cold out here.  It’s 80 degrees out!  Cold is a state of mind.”

We groaned and shuffled and did as we were told.   Watching us shiver from the cold, our Ranger instructor said with a big old grin on his face, “Men if you make it through Ranger School, for the rest of your life, every day will be a holiday and every meal a feast.”

He wasn’t wrong.

Life is a mental game, and the quality of the game is determined by how you perceive the game in your mind.  If your perception is that life is hard, then you will attract the conditions in your life to make it hard.  Our Colonel told us, before sending us off to Ranger School, that “nothing is as hard as it seems, but if you think it’s hard, it’ll be harder than it actually is.”

To play the game of life well, you must first play a good game in your head.

What’s your mental game like?

Not strictly true, but slightly true. Check out this link to see what I’m on about. It is a new technology that allows multi-camera streaming so you can cut between 5 clips yourself. The top big window is for the main image. The bottom 5 mini thumbnails are your camera options.

So that is interesting from an IT angle. But it could also be an interesting training opportunity. What kind of training and learning could be told this way? What options does it open up? What interactive learning techniques could be applied?

For instance a coaching piece where one camera is one a sales advisor, one on a customer, one on 2-shot of both and one on the paperwork or product. You explore the scene yourself, just as you would in a real-life coaching session.

I’ve just come off a rather interesting project. It was writing, directing and editing a character randomiser.

Oh yeah? What’s that then?

Well it’s a short interview with a character, in this case a salesman. He gives his views in answer to various questions. Except that everytime you watch it his views are different. In fact there are 42,000 various combinations. The task then, for the delegates / viewers who are all managers, is to think about what this characters coaching needs would be. What would you prioritise? How would you raise some issues with him?

Now that takes some writing! And some acting. The clip above shows just one version. In the spirit of the blog here some lessons learnt to share about this project in case others want to take this idea forward.

Writing it: The final viewing experience is made up of 3 sets of questions and answers. 5 different versions of each question. 8 different answers. I created a different script for each question and answer.

Technical stuff: Each question and answer was filmed with 2 cameras. The reason for this was so that during each answer I can keep popping up with ‘noddies’ or follow up questions. If I didn’t do this then the audience would spot the randomiser working. It would be clear that any visual cut would be the randomiser picking a clip. This way you don’t know what is a ‘randomiser cut’ and what is a ‘normal cut’. So each question or answer is then edited up in final cut so I have 39 short clips. These are then selected and played (jukebox style) by the randomiser program which is build using Flash.

Shooting: The black set is just set up in a dark normal office room but with £300 worth of black material everywhere.

How to write it: The characters opinions are mapped on a grid (the skills and commitment grid if you are aware of that model) so as to get a good range of views. From highly skilled to low skilled and high commitment to low commitment. It’s then a case of reading it again and again, in lots of combinations. If they don’t work then rewrite either the question or answer.

Does it work then?: It works okay. I give it 8 out of 10. The writing works perfectly. In fact I think it is the questions that are letting it down. Because they can’t really follow on that makes the performance difficult. It seems sometimes like I haven’t listened. If I did it again I would probably work on that. One solution being a very definite pause and a clearer statement about moving on or drawing a line in the sand.

Here is a snapshot of the script. Or you can download the whole thing here.

Check out this link on Questioning. A great resource to use and share as it goes through questions to avoid as well as ones to use to your advantage; whatever the situation.

The rest of the site looks pretty interesting too – it’s all about how how we change what others think, believe, feel and do.

Traditionally the image of a stand-up training session conjures up a vision of small room filled with people and a person standing up at the front pointing to a flip chart telling you how it is…

This isn’t the Marton House way. There isn’t another company in the country that has all of the resources in-house which can develop and produce materials to support their own trainers out in the field. Our proposition is unique… and relax there is still some flip chart action!

The strange thing is with all the video and media rich materials we produce we rarely manage to capture our trainers in action. That’s why when our MD Brian asked me to go along to one of his seminars and document the occasion I leapt at the chance.

Click on the video below for an example of what one of our training solutions might look like.

If you want to know more about our training solutions our contact details can be found on the about us page.

Bit of a strange point of view for someone who works for a company that creates E-Learning solutions, I agree. But hear me out …

Learning isn’t something ‘electronic’ … we learn today in the same way we always have learned:

  • through seeing (reading and watching)
  • through hearing (listening to teachers, parents, video, commentaries, etc)
  • through doing (physical actions … with “E-Learning” via the keyboard and mouse – clicking, dragging and dropping)
  • even through smelling and tasting things. These aren’t available at all in E-Learning (well, not yet).

We can’t “electronically learn” … we learn as we have always learnt, through our five senses and our experiences. Unlike the rapid change in technology in the last 20 years, we haven’t changed how we absorb information and behaviours over the last two decades. All that has happened is that we have a new way of being presented with the information.

So if there’s no such thing as E-Learning, what is there?

Well, I’d argue there’s a form of E-Teaching or E-Instructing … maybe even E-Facilitating or E-Presenting (none of which are snappy phrases, I agree). E-Learning is just another way of presenting information to the learner – a surrogate teacher / instructor / facilitator, often embellished with images, video and, all too often, lots of text to read. So maybe not the quantum leap that people thought …

That is why some people may have become so disappointed with E-Learning – they believed there was a new way to learn that would give amazing results, but in reality we still learn in the same way we always have.

So, there is no such thing as E-Learning … might have to start thinking about a new career, I suppose!


If we went around the world saying the same old speech again and again we’d get so good at it the stage fright would eventually disappear altogether.

The old saying “Practice makes perfect” holds just as true here as anywhere.

Practice doesn’t mean writing a script for your speech though, no that won’t help at all. Even the best actors in the world can’t remember massive chunks of dialogue that goes on for hours, so why should you expect it of yourself? A bullet point list is the best way to remember content and then it’s just a case of knowing and understanding what you want to say for each point.

Small manageable, bite-size pieces is the best way to create and learn your content, and better still you can take that single page bullet point list up on stage with you as a reminder for what comes next. Even better if it’s a Power Point presentation you can integrate it into that and nobody will ever know you’ve got it.

Don’t expect to just walk out on stage and have your presentation flow naturally, getting it to look slick takes time and effort. Be an actor. Do a role-play. Get your loved ones to be the audience. The more you practise the easier it will be live on the day.

More practice will give you confidence in your material and more confidence in yourself.

Here are a few preparation tips that’ll help to start breaking down those barriers.

  • Know your stuff. Once you do that everything else is just a minor hurdle to overcome.
  • Don’t read it, be it! No script when you go live.
  • Don’t drag it out, make everything short and to the point.
  • Bullet points.
  • Make like an actor – rehearse! Take 1 will not be good enough.
  • Use a video camera. See it from the audience’s perspective, then do another take.

The video camera is actually an amazing tool for practising. It allows us an out of body experience to see exactly how good or bad we are. Yes many people hate the thought of seeing themselves on camera, but don’t forget you also hate the thought of doing a presentation.

Conquer the camera, learn to look and feel good in front of that single, black eye of the lens then conquering the audience won’t be anywhere near as bad as it first appeared.

Being a coach is tough right?  It’s alright being the “go-to” person but as a coach where do you “go-to” for the occasional piece of advice from like-minded people?

Obviously the nice people right here at Marton House can help with more structured coaching help and mentoring but when you need a quick fix the answer is right here, right on this lovely inter-web thing.

Coaching UK is a dedicated forum where you can post your own questions, help others and also search the vast library of previous posts for your answers.

A nice example of what the forum can offer is this post about Emotional Intelligence.

Here is a new video from one of our trainers at Marton House – Clay Lowe. Clay runs his own adventure coaching company called Ascent. This video is about their philosophy and thoughts – can a physical journey influence your own emotional journey?

Ever thought about hiring a life coach?  Maybe you should check out this video first.

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