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Here at Purple Ink, we’re tapped to do a lot of training.  Organizations of all shapes and sizes invite us to partner in ongoing education to advance their strategic plan and maintain an edge in this competitive market we call the workplace.

As a lifelong learner, I’m all about new concepts, burgeoning ideas, and expanded knowledge. I love the energy of a room brimming with expectant trainees.  It exhilarates. It motivates. Yet, a good trainer will attest that when co-workers gather for a learning experience, the possibility of something even bigger always emerges (always!) – a something that is intangible, mysterious, even spiritual.  

This greater-than-the-sum-of-our-parts transcendence dawns within a group when the facilitator understands their greatest task: to transform the isolation and self-interest of individual participants into a caring and connected community.  Author and consummate trainer Peter Block suggests that the key to effecting this transformation lies in asking the right questions. Regardless of the topic at hand, questions properly worded and wielded hold far greater potential for learning than any fact or figure a trainer can present.

One of the best questions of them all, Block asserts, is sublime in its simplicity: What can we create together that we cannot create alone?  You might, of course, have to wordsmith the question to fit the nature of the training topic, but consider what this question evokes:

  • The participant is transposed from an I to a we
  • Group thinking is redirected from what are the problems to what are the possibilities
  • Participants’ gifts are summoned in the pursuit of ideas
  • Communal ownership is generated in the creation of common purpose
  • Trust among participants replaces stoic individualism

And suddenly, though brought together for the purpose of advancing in knowledge, your group leaves with the experience of advancing in wisdom – a newly discovered yet elusive truth that within community our greatest learning takes place.

Denise McGonigal
Denise McGonigal
Denise is a Purple Ink Collaborator and co-author of The JoyPowered® Family. With Learner in her top 5 Strengths, she is passionate about continuous learning both for herself and others.

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