Last week I had the pleasure of performing my first Dale Carnegie Course graduation of 2017.
I enjoy program graduations because they signify a transition. Much like the transition between winter and spring, this is a time when participants recognize overlooked skills and abilities, and begin the process of their personal transformation.
Over the years, I’ve witnessed numerous graduations in our various programs including the Dale Carnegie Course, the Sales Advantage program, and the Leadership Training for Management program. Of them all, Dale Carnegie Course graduates are always the most inspiring and fun. Participants start out in this program not sure of what the course is all about, but they know they want a change in their lives.
Some participants begin the program thinking “this is a public speaking program.” Yes, we do a lot of public speaking in the program and we do coach people on their public speaking skills. But in the time I’ve been involved in the program, we have always taught people how to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and feelings with passion, strength, and confidence. Public speaking is only one aspect of the human communication skill set that I think everyone needs to develop.
Other people that I’ve sold the program to have viewed the Dale Carnegie Course as a finishing course, allowing participants to gain some level of social refinement. Again, to some extent, this is also true. In the Dale Carnegie Course, we coach people to be more diplomatic in their dealings with people and tactful in their conversations because again, it’s all a part of the communication process. As we pointed out in some of our past sessions, how and when you communicate to people is just as important as what you communicate.
So, everyone comes into the program with their own perceptions of the program centered on what they want or what they want to solve. But they come out of the program with an expanded mindset.
There’s an Indian parable that highlights three blind men trying to determine what an elephant looks like. One man grabs a leg and says, “An elephant is like a pillar, sturdy and supportive.” Another man grabs the tail and says, “An elephant is like a rope, thin and flexible.” The third feels the elephant’s side and says, “An elephant is like a wall, wide and protective.”
The three men argue over who is right because all of them have now felt the same elephant. A short time later, a sighted man walks by and tells them that they all are right, but they have each only touched a small part of the elephant. Only then do the three blind men realize the full scope of the elephant in addition to learning of their own perceptual limitations.
That’s what I feel happens in the Dale Carnegie Course. Participants come into the program with their own perceptions of what the program is and what it will do for them. And when they graduate, not only do they realize that the program is more than what they originally thought, but they have a more expansive perception of their own skills and capabilities.
Last week’s graduation was the first celebration this year. I’m looking forward to conducting more in 2017.
Make life happen!