Let’s Pardon Some Turkeys
Here in the USA, this time of year is often referred to as the season of remembrance. Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season helps to remind us to be thankful for the things we have, be mindful of the many who go without and to send positive thoughts to those who cannot be with their families and friends because they’re busy protecting us so that we can enjoy our freedom.
With that and agility in mind, lately I’ve been thinking about how lucky we North Americans are for the agility opportunities we have in the United States (and Canada) and how I need to be mindful of that sort of thanksgiving as well. As you look across this continent and think about the very basics (and beginnings) of training and shaping behaviors through the highest levels of complex competing (not to mention all the conditioning and advanced medical resources we have available), I genuinely believe that we have the best handlers and trainers in the WORLD right here in North America.
Current trends in seminars might seem shiny and brighter because they come from outside North America, but if you closely examine them, don’t they seem oddly familiar?
Think about it and be honest. There's a well known handler, trainer and competitor right here in the USA who quantified everything that some of the Europeans are now teaching, and she did it years ago, and she's been teaching it, without any marketing or hype, successfully, for years.
Another well known competitor and instructor, right here in North America, has protocols for weave pole training and stopped contact training that are amazingly clear, detailed, and have been successfully used by thousands of people.
Our training and handling, right here in North America, is the best in the world.
Our courses at competitions might not challenge us to USE those skills all the time, but in terms of the information available, you can get the same (or better) information from somebody “Made in the USA”, as you can from a more exotic source.
Now let me be clear. There are many instructors out there teaching the same material. Some are better at marketing their material than others. Some have more clever names for their material than others. And some are just plain better at teaching the material than others.
But I think it's important to not get too caught up in the hype or to feel that if you don't attend the seminar from presenter XYZ, you are going to be missing out on all the latest and greatest. Seriously, the chances are really, really good that you will be hearing the same content, worded differently at some point soon (if you haven’t heard it already). And if the personality of presenter XYZ appeals to you more than another presenter, then by all means – go with the instructor you like.
But at the end of the day, trendy seminars aside – is a “seminar” from someone you don't know the best use of your time (and money)?
While the one or two day seminar can provide a list of training “to-do’s” and a temporary sense of excitement, how does one sustain really good, substantive training long term?
In this day and age, where information is so readily available, you can form a relationship with an instructor who doesn't even live anywhere NEAR you. REALLY!
From Florida to California to Texas to Maine to Montana, competitors can train with great instructors, behavior specialists, world champion handlers, international winners and the like from Wisconsin, Colorado, Canada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon – wherever!
Form a relationship with that instructor.
These days, you can have access to all the heavy hitters in agility ONLINE, no matter where they live.
And then (and this is VERY important), instead of spending thousands of dollars to go to seminars where the presenter doesn't know you, has never heard of you, and doesn't have a vested interest in supporting YOUR agility future . . . further solidify your online education by occasionally getting yourself to a private lesson or workshop that is being taught by that instructor from FL, CA, OH, OR, or wherever that you DO have a relationship with.
Think about it – if you're going to spend tons of money getting to a seminar where youMIGHT get an hour of working time, wouldn't you be better off with a one hour private lesson with the world-class instructor you've ALREADY been working with?
Who knows you?
Who has seen you work with your dog, in your own back yard, answering your questions in great detail that you can refer to time and again all through the convenience of your PC, laptop, tablet, etc.?
And then, when that private lesson is over, and you leave, you STILL have a relationship with that instructor, who has now seen you in person and can give even BETTER feedback as you continue to work with them online.
As a seminar presenter and online class instructor, I’ve been giving more and more thought to these very ideas lately and find that I am less and less interested in presenting seminars to clients I am unlikely to ever see again – I want to meet those students for the first time, and then be able to continue with them for the long run. A one time encounter with a new student might help me pay my bills, but ultimately, I feel as though I'm not actually helping those teams as much as I could be if we had continued exposure to one another. In a way, those one hit wonder types of seminars can be a disservice.
I've been around long enough now to see that most of the “new” stuff going around these days is just the same stuff packaged up in slick new wrappers. I'm much more interested in showing people how they can get the same results with the skills they already have, and then moving on to the more important business of helping people execute and act on the knowledge that is so readily available to us all now.
Phew – that turned out to be a long one! 🙂