I believe the Training industry is broken. And I think Tinseltown can save it. How?
Rewind to Thursday, May 19, 2005. “Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” was set to hit theaters at midnight and I was beyond excited.
That night changed my whole perspective on my job.
I waited in line for 9 hours, shoulder to shoulder with over 1,000 people, committed to being the first to witness the last chapter of the Star Wars cinematic and cultural phenomenon. Nearly everyone was chatting with their neighbors in line, sharing how SW had transformed everything about them…from their mood on a particular day, to even the choice of career for some. There were no strangers that night, but rather a feeling of community and belonging that transcended virtually anything I had ever witnessed or felt.
As we twisted our way into the theaters around 11:00pm, the mood was positively electric (I would say “you could’ve cut the excitement with a lightsaber!” but even I would find that reference annoying).
Once in our seats, the minutes flew by until midnight finally came and the iconic “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” floated onto the screen. I was – for the last time – swept into my final 2-hour journey through the land of lightsabers, good and evil, honor lost and found, and the hope that love would win the day.
With the last strains of John Williams’ score ringing in my ears, I headed for home at 3:00am and thought about the incredible thing I’d just witnessed. I’d been in the middle of a crowd who stayed up on a school night to watch a movie and share a transformational experience – an experience that couldn’t be found in a training class. Heck, most of these folks probably would’ve avoided a 2-hour training class like the plague. We had all become united for a few hours around something bigger than ourselves.
I guided my car into the garage and dragged myself to bed, looking forward to a few moments of rest yet dreading the sleep-deprived day that awaited me on the other side of the snooze button. I pulled the covers up to my chin, closed my eyes…
…then sat straight up, mouth open, eyes wide, hands fumbling in the dark to write down this lighting-bright revelation:
“That movie changed someone. Changed them for the better. Just being in that deluge of energy and hope and unbridled joy gave someone in that theater the strength to get out of bed in a few hours with a new sense of purpose and meaning. The end of this movie marked the beginning of a changed life. Right now, someone has been inspired. Right now, someone wants to change. Right now, someone wants to make a difference.
That movie gave someone the courage to change their world.”
This was the truth of what I had experienced that night. I had seen it in the eyes of the audience members too moved to sleep or even stand still. I had no bloody clue what to do with this revelation, though. Profound thoughts? Yes. But my 3:00am sensibilities begged my brain to shut up and drop the pen and ditch the deep thoughts and GO TO BED DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS?
But I just couldn’t let it go. Something was missing. This lightning strike lacked a clap of thunder, a coda, a call to arms. Finally it came, in all caps:
“SO CAN TRAINERS.”
I sat back, buzzing with excitement. Hope. Joy.
It was at this point that 3:00am Sensibility Man gently informed me that I was full of crap. Grandiose, dramatic, overblown crap.
(to be continued…)