The Role of the Trainer Should Not Be Underestimated

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    Jackie Apodaca, an assistant professor at Southern Oregon University, writes in BACKSTAGE, “The Role of the Actor in Society Should Not Be Underestimated.” Theatre is a fine art and that is how she talks about it. I want to show how theatre (acting in particular) embodies some similar characteristics and applies as a practical art–and training–trainers like actors in particular have a pivotal role in not only business but also in society.

    “On the heels of sorrow in Connecticut, this year’s holidays were a strong cocktail, with a dose of hangover before the celebration even began,” she begins. For us, this is a metaphor for when the economy is tentative.

    If you are in a show this season…don’t underestimate your contribution to the well-being of those in the audience or alongside you onstage. You are pulling people into a performance, providing a respite from the complex and sometimes excruciating reality outside the theater doors. — Jackie Apodaca

    Of course, she talking about actors, but are trainers not far off from the same thing? When I quote Apodaca I can’t help, but quote from the choir (now there’s a switchback of a metaphor). She continues as I, a former actor (later trainer) knew she would,

    Actors are storytellers, temporarily extinguishing our worries as they play out alternate realities on stage or screen. Sometimes a performer holds up a mirror, shining light on hidden societal sins, but often he or she helps us escape, reminding us of happier times or our greater human potential. With actors carrying our frustrations, fears, desires, and hopes, we can let go of the fight—at least for a little while. — Jackie Apodaca

    The one thing about theatre is that it is cathartic. Theatre, through its actors, carries society’s problems away. Hence, Apodaca, exclaims, “The role of the actor in society should not be underestimated.”

    Nor should the role of the trainer who needs to lift the spirits of company personnel, improve morale, increase productivity, improve company image, etc., be underestimated either. In essence, trainers breathe life into what may be going through the woes of “fears,” and give its workers “hopes” and “desires” beyond where they stand today. The workers can let go of their frustrations–let go of the “fight.” While it may seem a bit hokey, the trainer’s job is not unlike the actors to be a motivator, to bring excitement, adventure, romance, and life to the workplace.

    Just as our theatre professor says, “Although it’s easy to get caught up in celebrity and fame, the timeless function of the actor is to take on communal pain and provide catharsis, or emotional and spiritual purification, for every person in the audience.”

    For our trainers, we can’t let this underestimated power go to our heads, but remember the trainer’s role in a humbler way. Trainers must show and lead the way in the same way that “actors are essential to the psychic health of our world;” trainers doing their job well are essential ingredients to a thriving and growing company. In my view: as important as the leaders themselves.

    While “sometimes maddening as a career, acting remains a sacred art.” I didn’t stay a professional actor because the idea of waiting at tables for the next job was never appealing, but often that is the life of most actors. I wanted a call less mad. I went into radio and television, the military and civil service, and yes, I became a trainer among other things. Was any of it less mad? I don’t know. But I learned from it all. Life may not always be fair, but it always teaches. And all it teaches is deserving.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    As you know I have a kind of “Cave Man” wisdom of doing what works, of looking at the training world from different perspectives. Hopefully, some of them make it through to you and are of some use. Be kind enough to check out my website where you’ll find some more of my thoughts and some free e-books. Happy training.