Yesterday I spent the majority of the day, identifying a problem with a car engine.

This started with thirty minutes of trying to disconnect fiddly connectors, which ten days ago, had been easy to separate.

I’d lost the knack

For half an hour, I was thinking, how can this have happened?

When you don’t do something regularly, it’s not intuitive, and (especially) when you are trying to learn, fix, investigate, you can lose the knack.

It happened when I was trying to compression test the car engine.

What has this got to do with training?

A fair bit, because it’s worth passing on tips and approaches. The things which work for you, will likely help students find their own knack.

This is vital, because once they “get it” (the knack, or part of it), learning can be converted into concrete experience.

So why did I spend half an hour looking quizzically at those connectors?

Part of this was self-imposed.

I wanted to work on the car engine, and put myself under pressure.

This made me lose the knack. But perfectly understandable, as I was still learning.

It would have been better to break down what I was trying to do, into smaller, more digestible steps, making the learning easier (to apply practically).

As a trainer, it’s important to get the balance right.

Share tips, and back them up with a practical exercise. But don’t expect students to join all the dots, and find the knack straight away.

Explain precisely, and accurately how a knack works.

Start off with a practical foundation, and build from there. Encourage people to play, experiment, and investigate. Because learning is best achieved by those who are motivated, and curious.

When someone “finds the knack”, it makes it all worthwhile :)

Don’t be afraid to refine a knack.

Don’t just rely on auto-pilot. Learning never stops. Improving never stops.

There is always room to optimise a knack. Be open to new approaches. It never hurts to re-join the dots, and justify how a knack works.

Finally, be careful not to over-engineer.