Lately  ‘Mother Nature’ has shared with me some very unexpected (but welcome) situations. These situations can’t specifically be linked with teaching and training; however, through analogy they illustrate some fine teaching/training lessons.

We returned to vacation to find that the weeds had taken over. Anxious to return our property back to ‘normal’ my husband attacked the weeds in the lawn. He moved to the herb garden and asked me about the ‘weeds’: “Did you plant tomatoes with the herbs OR are these just weeds?”

I examined the patch of plants: “I didn’t plant tomatoes there, but those ‘weeds’ look like tomatoes.”  We later surmised that our (home-made) compost must have provided tomato seeds.

To the left is a mid-summer picture of my basil along with my unexpected tomatoes. [Look closely for the immature tomatoes.]

Now, nearing the end of the season, I can say that I’ve harvested between 20 and 30 tomatoes from perhaps the most prolific tomato plant I’ve ever had. There is truly something to be said about companion planting!

While I considered my unexpected bounty a surprize, I had no idea I was in for a real treat: something some people NEVER experience.

Last weekend, while out for what we planned to be a brief hike in part of the Silver Creek Wetlands, I noticed something that I’d never seen before in this small creek: fish about 2 to 3 feet long.


the fighting, the struggling and the abundance of salmon (or what we think were salmon).

[Further research has shown that the greenish 2-3 foot fish we encountered were probably Chinook Salmon and the 2-3 foot fish with a blacker tone may have been Steelhead (Trout).]

For two hours we ran up and down the stream watching the salmon. One salmon, that we think was a female, was quite an aggressor. She was docile until another salmon approached, then she jumped over, bit and chased each salmon back down the stream.

We tried to ‘coach’ the others to get by her and were delighted that a small salmon leveraged the fight the aggressive fish was having with a larger fish. That opportunistic salmon escaped up the river.

Not all the salmon were as lucky. For some, ONE step forward meant TWO steps back. While some salmon just kept persevering, others were too exhausted to continue and lay lifeless along the river bank.

We cheered on the salmon until we noticed the time and then we hightailed it home.

Anxious to share this experience with you, I thought about how ‘Mother Nature’ illustrated some lessons that can be applied to the Teaching/Training World: 

  1. Give the unexpected a chance. When facing the unexpected give it some time to ‘grow’ and mature. (Don’t ‘weed it out‘ too quickly.) You may be surprized with the results, just as I was surprized with my bounty of tomatoes.
  2. Consider surrounding (or supplementing) your material with companion material. Even if you only prepare to speak about a companion topic, testimonial or reference. Extending your training in this manner makes it more relevant, more interesting and the results may be more ‘fruitful’ (just like the tomatoes).
  3. When you don’t seem to be making any progress, (examine the situation) and persevere. If you face a barrier that is a person, I suggest you start to employ Culture Change Management techniques. (Here is a link to my post on what Trainers need to know about Culture Change.) Whereas, if you’ve made some progress and then seem to have been pushed back; find comfort in the knowledge that going forward should be easier the second time you try it. (Remember if you did it once you can do it again!)

Have you applied lessons from ‘Mother Nature’ in the classroom or on a webinar? Please share with us by leaving a comment.

Until next time… Be flexible and observant so that you may enjoy the surprizes that work and life will bring.


I’m working with iMovie on a Video Trailer some of my salmon footage. Stay tuned…