Trainers’ Pool or trainer’s fool?

» Ten dreams of a lonely fish…

Too many fish

There are a lot of
pools in this world.

When I look at the different trainers’ pools I am swimming in, I feel alternately like an amoeba, a piraña, an octopus, or a fool;” depending on my mood. In all of them I feel like a fish that doesn’t quite belong there.

This got me to thinking about my pool dreams:
If I were in charge and could decide, what would I do?

My first thought goes to breaking down barriers. The current pools are very specific, and most of them are too small for all the fish. And it is very difficult to jump from one pool to the next; the small club of fish are mostly self-referential. Some of the owners should get together and co-operate!

less fog, and
more transparency!

My second thought goes to transparency. Every time pool owners are looking for some fish for a special assignment, it gets foggy inside the pool — like all octopi are loosing their ink at the same time. When the water clears up, a few fish are gone. Some return, others you never see again. What happens to them, I wonder…

My third thought goes to learning. Every fish is swimming around like they always did. It seems repetitive, and can get quite boring after some time. Learning new ways of swimming would be fun!

Being pretty is not everything

My fourth thought goes to renewal. Whenever there is a new fish, most of the oldies simply ignore them. Sometimes there are bitter arguments because a crazy greenhorn is trying to swim in the waters of the wise, old fish. Over the years, I have seen many sad fish, and some even injured. Shouldn’t we be a little nicer?

My fifth thought goes to democracy. Our pool owners tell us we are swimming in a democracy. Funnily enough, this seems to be true only inside our small waters: someone else decides how much food there is for us, and who is allowed to eat. Some of us are kept hungry for too long; and I am wondering whether the perspective from up and out there isn’t slightly distorted. Don’t we see better what’s going on inside the depths of our own waters?

less flipping
less snoozing!

My sixth thought goes to quality. Some fish are jumping when someone can be seen outside of the water, but snooze away the rest of the time. Some others invent crazy ways of flipping around that make a lot of waves for no good. Very few try to eat and grow so much that they can outshadow the smaller buddies. Some others work away quietly but are hardly ever noticed. I think every fish should get the chance to show what they are doing, why they are doing it, how good that has been and what it has given our community of fish. Should calm down the waters for the better!

My seventh thought goes to freshness. I think our pool needs some connection to the world out there. Some canals we can all use to go elsewhere and bring back new experiences, together with some fresh water. It gets muddy quickly, otherwise.

Life is cruel

My eigth thought goes to mentoring. Why do all fish need to learn everything by themselves? Why is there no scheme in which more experienced fish can support, observe, guide, mentor less experienced fellas?

My ninth thought goes to self-management. I really have enough of being administered by someone out there. Not only is it blurry out there and difficult for us to see what’s going on, it also seems to take so fishy long! Why don’t we elect a couple of crazy and clever fish to manage our own business?

My tenth thought goes to creativity. I would love to see a gathering of all fish every six months for trying out all sorts of flippy ways of swimming, jumping, and diving. A safe pool to test the waters, so to speak :)

Well, I am off to watch «Find Nemo» and eat some sushi…

What are your wet dreams?


  1. I’m a rather young fish in some these ponds and still try to understand how they function and orientate myself.
    So far it seems to me that sometimes someone shouts into the pool and if I feel that s/he meant me, I shout back: “me, me, me!”; and hope that I am heard. If I get selected, I don’t know why, if I don’t get selected, I don’t know either. I don’t know who else shouted ‘me!’ and why those have or have not been selected.
    I’m not sure if a self-managed organisational process would be more transparent, but at least there would be a democratic process of holding those decision makers responsible for changing that to the better.
    I still need to learn more about the implicit functioning of the pools, in which I take my first strokes in, to really provide constructive criticism. But I can imagine that a constant quality-assurance process, which includes mentoring, performance-evaluation, self-evaluation, and peer-learning can only do these waters good.

  2. Thank you, young fish. Typing is not easy for all of us (with fins and what have you not), and I appreciate your efforts even more because of that.

    I think one problem might be that so many people outside our waters don’t understand our fishy-slang very well (except Dumbledore, of course, but he is dead now).

    For many, when we shout “me, me, me” it looks like this:

    Me me me but can you hear me

    I agree that democracy does not guarantee transparency, but I think without democracy transparency cannot be had.

  3. I haven’t been involved in EYC activities for quite long. My professional commitments drove me another direction and would be difficult to find time for trainings right now. But I think the Trainer’s Pool is a good idea and I want to stay in. So the first question I would raise is: how long a fish can stay quiet? And also: how old a fish can grow in this pool? Is there any age-limit for trainers/consultants? Is it possible to re-activate yourself or you get out-of-date?
    Some years ago we were requested to renew membership, since then I haven’t noticed other “pool administration activities”.
    Twice a year I receive a list of trainings offered for external trainers (is it getting shorter each year or it is only my subjective perception?), and time by time an emergency call for an upcoming event. Would be interesting to read an annual report of the pool, too: who did which training, short comments, feedbacks, new approaches… This could also be sent by e-mail.
    Wish you a good meeting in Budapest!

  4. Pools when not filled with fresh water from time to time potentially start emitting bad smells…
    But personally I am not really interested anymore talking and reflecting about trainer pools “owned” and administered by institutions. I have been to too many of those meetings where you are asked what shall be improved and developed (which undoubtedly sometimes even become reality!), you chat with colleagues (nice and valuable!), hear what the institution is planning or has realized already, one complains a bit that the meeting is structured always quite similar as a well-known alternating flow of plenary and working group sessions… anyway, the starting or focal point is the interest of the institution (and rightly so from their perspective); BUT is this at the end also our/my interest???
    I favour the idea of trainers (and also others sharing the same values and objectives) getting together because they have a “mission”, they have something to say, to change, to offer to the world out there – and in the course of that support and learn from each other and create work opportunities for themselves (through initiating – training – projects they are really interested in). And consequently “inform” the institutions, offer them your results or co-operation if they want – in this way you/we play our game and do not spend time trying to understand what the institution wants and how we could influence it for our interest.

    And finally – it needs transparency! Lets talk about what we do, how we do it following the idea that “good” produces more “good”..
    Sorry for the slightly “moralistic” tone, but it is a discussion which “empassions” (does that word exist?) me!!


  5. Kinga, thanks for jumping into the pool discussion! Your questions are good ones – I wonder what the answers are…? I am getting worried about the age-question now, oh jee!

    Peter, thanks for splashing in as well! You know, there is something funny I have to admit. One thing the institutional pools have given me that I otherwise might have missed: meeting people I disagree with.

    Admittedly, some were too cowardly to say so, and over time that has become quite disagreeable, but anyway – what did whoever say:

    I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.

    I actually disagree with that… But I digress.

    Question is: would such a model survive? We make something ourselves and offer co-operation to the institutions? Do they need us this badly? Would they give up their pools? Would we give up being in their pools?

  6. Andreas,from your comment I felt it needs a few more sentences to explain my thoughts better. I was not thinking of creating a trainers pool for offering it to the institution. I am not thinking of pools at all – I have in my mind a less structured model and more dynamic; trainers creating different “communities of practice”, learning together, working together, discussing together – and there shall be various of those communities and you can be in different ones depending on what is the common thread the members of the community holding on together. and such communities of practice could also become partners of and for institutions if there is a need for that and benefits on both sides – but the connection to the institution is not the main point.
    …and about disagreeing. I agree with you on that – I was not talking about getting together with friends for creating a cosy network; but confronting each other searching for the common thread and understanding on the essential contents..

    well, I hope that made it clearer

  7. Peter, thanks for the clarification!

    I see the charme of your less structured and more dynamic model, but one question I am asking myself is: Who holds this together? How does it hold together?

    Of course you might wonder whether it needs any holding together at all… I guess so, without really knowing why.

    May be because of this: how does innovation and creativity spread from one community of practice to another? Through the persons alone? I doubt that…

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