It is said when adults come to any kind of training they are in one of three states of mind:
It’s easy to understand what each means. The Hostages are those people who have no other choice but to be in training. They’ve been told they have to attend. They are only there to put in the time and get out. I’ve had a few of these in my classes over the years. They usually sit at the back. They roll their eyes when given an assignment. They occasionally write in their notebooks. If they do participate or interact, it is usually to challenge someone else – most likely me. I’ve learned to spot them pretty quickly and I try very hard to turn them around. Sadly, their mind is usually set at the beginning and for the next few hours, they are a victim.
Then there are the Vacationers, those people who aren’t in class to learn anything, they are simply in class so they don’t have to be at work. They will participate in all the get to know you activities and all the fun classroom stuff but when asked to do the hard work, to turn in an assignment or to come back from break on time, they will flatly refuse. I used to think they are better than the Hostages because at least they are pleasant but I’ve come to realize that they are, in fact, worse. They talk a good game but at the end of class, they’ve learned nothing and given nothing of themselves. So the rest of the class has been robbed of the input they could have had from the Vacationers.
Last, there are the Explorers. These are the best students to have. They are the ones who WANT to be in class. They want to investigate. They want to LEARN. They are the ones who ask the most questions. They are the ones who do the hard work because they know it will teach them something. If I’m really good, I can sometimes turn a hostage or a Vacationer into an Explorer. But not often. That’s because being an Explorer takes work on their part. You can’t be a passive Explorer. And if you are in a Hostage or Vacationer state of mind, Exploring isn’t going to happen.
I’ve used these descriptions for years as I’ve taught classes in companies all over the country. It helps me when I’m teaching to identify the students. It also helps when HR asks me if they should require people to attend a training session. I’m able to easily explain using the descriptions why I don’t want Hostages in class.
It just hit me today as I was driving that these same descriptions can be used for how people approach life.
Hostages – begrudgingly participating in life, always the victim, negative and looking for the downside or how they can prove that they don’t belong here or here or here
Vacationers – just trying to get the good out of life, taking advantage of the fun times, refusing to participate in the hard stuff or gliding through the hard stuff just to get to the good stuff again
Explorers – looking to learn, trying to find the meaning in life, willing to do the hard work and learn the hard lessons because they know they’ll be better for it.
Hostages look at a situation and think, “How wronged I’ve been!”
Vacationers look at a situation and say, “What’s in this for me?”
Explorers look at a situation and wonder, “What will I discover?”
I don’t think it is necessarily a personality trait. Meaning I don’t think people are one way and that’s it. I think it can be situational. I think if you have been Vacationing for a while you can decide with a new circumstance to become an Explorer. Or if you’ve felt like a Hostage for a while now you can, starting today, become an active participant in your life.
I do have to say, though, I do know people who are perpetually Hostages of their life. Same with Vacationers, I know some of those – only happy when life is good and circumstances are going their way. I really don’t understand it. Just like when I encounter one of these in class, when I come across someone like this in my life, I try to “turn them around” , I try to show them a better way. Try to get them to participate. Because, frankly, I think life is better when you are Exploring. It’s not easier, no, not at all. But it’s certainly more meaningful.
Hostages, Vacationers, Explorers. Interesting.