My love for coffee began during my MBA days when I needed an extra boost to stay alert during boring lecture after boring lecture.
Looking back, I ask myself how on Earth did I retain any of the theories I learned, let alone apply them to real life?
As I entered the workforce I was faced with reading outdated manuals and bulky company standard operating documents.
If I was lucky, an outside master trainer would come in and bore myself and my coworkers to death for a week with lectures, and then off we went to go swimming with the sharks.
Fortunately, in the past three years, I have observed a trend in the rising usefulness and impact of alternative, experiential learning that complements the curriculum of more traditional methods.
Experiential learning (EXL) is education through experience, also known as learning by doing.
In my last role as Talent Advisor for TD Bank, my employer Allegis selected me to participate in an offsite in Chicago with DX Learning for an experiential learning seminar that would help unlock my leadership potential and build professional EQ.
At first, I questioned my company's decision to send me as I considered myself a great leader. I have always prided myself on my workplace compassion and am a big believer in self-awareness and personal growth, so I knew that I could only get better through this seminar.
As I returned to Toronto it was like a switch had been flipped and not just in my professional life.
In my personal life, I no longer let out a stream of expletives every time I tripped over my husband's trousers left willy-nilly on the bedroom floor or slammed down the toilet seat begrudgingly with an eye-roll upon discovering that it's been left up once again.
I noticed this shift trickle into the way I approached my career and the people I lead.
My strengths as a mentor, coach, and leader radiated through in new ways that allowed me to take on more responsibility without feeling overwhelmed.
I felt empowered.
It's hard to imagine that two days spent in an experiential learning seminar radically changed my life, but it did.
I contacted Alex Draper, the founder of DX Learning, and asked how I could become involved in bringing this program to Canada to help others experience what I felt was a genuinely progressive and effective way of learning leadership.
The rest is history.
Some misconceptions about experiential learning perpetuate the myth that it is expensive, hard to scale, and difficult to embed in cultures. With my own experience, the benefits vastly outweigh and disprove the myths.
Here at DX, we believe that every person in every company deserves to experience a powerful learning journey that enlightens and empowers people to shift their habits and better themselves.
We believe the most effective way to unlock potential is through experiential learning.
Why is experiential learning so important?
Experiential learning accelerates a leaders' ability to be self-aware as we condense years of leadership experience into mere days.
There is no other way to do this.
Experiential learning is the gateway toward building more self-awareness, which is the most effective way to unlock a person's leadership potential.
The earlier leaders can engage and embrace self-awareness, the better.
What makes experiential learning unique?
Facilitators fail when they tell participants what their leadership strengths and weaknesses are.
To unlock self-awareness and accelerate one's leadership potential one must experience self-awareness on their own accord.
It's the same as being lectured to versus learning by doing.
People need to experience their own bad leadership habits in order to gain motivation toward building better habits.
The most effective way to accomplish this is by creating safe environments that recreate reality and condense months of leadership experience into mere days.
Traditional training may produce work-ready individuals but they will likely fail to perform in their roles in some way and need to undergo re-training.
The experiential learning model allows learners to "fail fast", thus prompting immediate, in-the-moment remedial training.
This "fail fast" method not only generates a faster turnaround for a fully trained workforce, it is also cost-effective by saving time and resources.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, "I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand."
This is what makes experiential learning worth it.