Okay, I was at it again. YES, I did tackle the end (for now) of my painting spree. Then I remembered that I promised some additional insights on lessons I have learned from painting.


All I wanted to paint was a simple wall. ONE SIMPLE WALL! No furniture to move, no windows to avoid, no fancy curves or corners to navigate. JUST ONE SIMPLE WALL! And what happened?

I stepped on the paint lid with my good running shoes on… My red hair became Hillsborough Beige… And I did not take my own advice outlined in Painting Lessons Part 1 (i.e. I did not quit when I hit the ceiling). Now in fairness to me, I wasn’t tired; I was just getting started (but I did find that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser worked very well at getting paint off a textured stucco ceiling).

This project was supposed to be so straight forward. Why did I have all these set-backs?

Isn’t that like training though? Some of the most straightforward, ‘no-brainer’ subjects can be full of landmines.

So, watch out when you are assigned to teach something that should be second nature to you or that you could do in your sleep. There is NO SUCH THING as a ‘no-brainer’. Treat that task the same as you would any other teaching task with the proper preparation of materials and delivery. Don’t get complacent in your delivery.

Understand this: More than 50% of car accidents occur within 5 miles of home. Why? Some say there are more distractions, more complacency and that the driver’s minds switch-off because it is familiar territory.  Remember your job is to make it look like it was a ‘no-brainer’ and simplify and explain things so that they are a ‘no-brainer’ for your attendees.


You may think that it is a ‘no-brainer’ to avoid ‘painting yourself into a corner’.  Okay, I didn’t really paint myself into a corner… but in my previous painting spree I was behind the dryer where I painted the wrong wall first. So, I kinda got covered in paint: ALL covered in paint.  (That is why you wear painting clothes!)

So plan out how you are going to attack your painting AND your teaching/training…

When I was working on my certification as an instructor I had to teach in front of my peers before I was allowed to ‘go live’ in front of a real class. I was well on my way into my certification and one of my peers, who I’ve mentioned in previous posts, decided to ‘test’ me. He ‘lead me’ into a corner (unfairly I should tell you). And then nailed me and yelled, “You just contradicted all the other guys. This stuff is ****!” Oh, no: what was I to do?

When it came to the review of my ‘dry run’, I passed with flying colours. (I was surprized: I was ready to be crucified!)

My advice to you, is if you ‘paint yourself into a corner’: apologize, think quick, remain calm and stay rational. If someone is going to be a jerk… let them. You will ‘win’ more points with your audience than you can possibly imagine.


If you want to know how well your house is built, then do your own painting. Yes, by ‘getting up close and personal’  you will find all the nicks,  scrapes and deficiencies. The last time I painted, I had to patch the wall underneath a window with a whole cup of putty! Whoever cut the drywall needed another cup of coffee or needed to be reminded of the ‘measure twice, cut once’ principle.

So what does that have to do with teaching/training? Sometimes you inherit something that is not ideal: that could be material or if you are team teaching the instructor before you may have left you with a mess. Assess the situation, figure out what you can salvage and get creative in fixing it. (Before you team teach, consult the page I’ve developed on how to work together as a Teaching Team.)


I have a few painters tricks… if you need to step away from your painting for lunch or overnight, rather than cleaning your brushes, wrap them in saran wrap (aka cling film).  Yes, you can re-use your brush and avoid the messy cleanup. (I have reused my saran wrapped paint brushes two weeks after they were wrapped.) Rumor has it that if you toss your saran wrapped brushes in the freezer, that you can reuse your brushes in a month.  Let me know if you try this and whether or not it works…

Just like painting, I have plenty of teaching ‘tricks’… but what I want to emphasize is thinking/working smart. Think about how you can structure a module (or a workshop) so that you can re-use some of the material.  There are lots of things you can re-use: an opening exercise, a joke, an analogy and sometimes even generic content. If you think about how you can re-use content, your development and prep time will decrease and the quality of your delivery should increase.


I would agree that all this advice is very practical and ‘no-brainers’; however, we need to remind ourselves of things we should do and traps to avoid before all of this becomes second nature. We should try to re-use (and improve) existing material. When cornered we need to remain calm and rational. AND we must never get complacent, for if we do, we should be looking for a new job.

If you missed the first in this series, check out Painting Lessons: What Trainers can Re-Learn from Domestic Chores.

I’m going to put away my paint brushes for awhile… I need to build a few shelves (or at least get some shelves built)… Until next time…


Flickr Creative Commons Image by massdistraction