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How do you feel about professional development? Do you welcome every opportunity to learn or does even the thought of it interrupt your day? Here’s how learning recently interrupted my day and what I realised to make it better.

Have you ever looked out of the plane window and tried to recognise your location? Recognise a landmark, a football field, your home? In Sydney, if you have the pleasure of a window seat, the right runway and accommodating winds you will easily recognise the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

I live fairly close to the city and airport and have often looked for ‘our house’ and never, not once in 20 years of regular interstate flying have I had the conditions to see it. Until today. Today I saw our suburb,  the neighbouring golf courses, churches, apartment blocks, freeways, our street and our house!

I was delighted at this little accomplishment, and it made me ask why? Why today? Why were the conditions just so?

  • Was it the window seat? (certainly a huge contributing factor).
  • Was it the glorious crisp blue winter’s day?
  • Was it that when the co-pilot came on to explain our departure, I put down my book and listened for the first time in ages?
  • Was it that he was so clear in his instructions of our route, “eastern suburbs to the right”, “whales to the left”?
  • Was it that the p.a. system on the plane was in perfect working order and at the right volume?
  • Was it that I was trying harder to see?
  • Was it that I was paying exact attention in the short time we had?
  • Was it that I was totally immersed in the moment?
  • Was I ready and focused?

The answer to all these questions was ‘yes’.

Learning isn’t always on our own terms or perfectly timed.

As managers, leaders, teachers or students, we are sometimes forced with the “opportunity” to learn, finding ourselves booked in for a seminar, conference or program without any consultation.

As a facilitator, it’s not too hard to spot reluctance and if that happens to be you, don’t worry, we totally understand. You’re busy, and you know your stuff right? So why has HR or your Manager even arranged this interruption to your day?  

The reasons for booking in teams and individuals for training can be endless, but there is one thing I can tell you for sure: it’s almost always the smallest change or tweak that makes the biggest difference to the quality of a work environment. It’s about giving yourself the slight edge.

Here are three concepts that will help you maximise any training situation. Small tweaks that might make a huge difference to the quality of your professional life, maybe even personal. Could even be the difference to how you contribute to your team’s intelligence.  Changes that might even get you a surprising ‘aha’ moment, like mine on the plane.

3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Any Training Situation

1: Be grateful for the opportunity.

Instead of coming to the session and viewing it has an interruption or a rehash, see it as an opportunity. Focus on being open to learning something new, or at the very least to confirm what you’re doing is right so you can help others become more skilled.

Have you heard of The Protege Effect? 

2: Engage. Really, we mean it!

Participate in activities, answer questions, share your knowledge, thoughts and experiences. Not only will that embed your learning but it will help others to embed theirs. Build on your unique team intelligence

3: Take notes  

If you can create in your mind’s eye how a particular concept can work for you write it down, highlight it, and send yourself a reminder. Even the best of the best take notes and re-read them and apply them.  

Richard Branson famously has note paper and a pen with him wherever he goes. Remember: the real magic is in the doing, as in rereading, and taking action.


We’re not always ready to hear what we need to hear, see what we’d like to see, or absorb what is being taught, but if you can recognise it for the opportunity it is, focus and be ready in your environment, then you might be surprised with an ‘aha’ moment.

Take every opportunity you can to make learning stick.



Gabriella is the Director of What’s Your Edge? She is a widely sought-after Facilitator, speaker and coach.

She is the creator of the program TeamQ™ and other innovative programs designed for businesses and individuals to get their edge.