Ready or Not, Here I Go – Getting Ready to Learn at The Lake District

Going to the lake district

My first introduction to TLD was via a muddy obstacle course (which you can read all about in Issue 8 of Enhance Magazine).  Just over three months in and I’m doing it again; this time I’m being packed off to the Lake District to bear witness to the trials of the Thales UK apprentices, and obviously it wouldn’t be cricket if I didn’t get involved as well.  So from Monday to Friday of next week (16th-20th Nov) I am leaving the comfort of my central heated office and comfy desk set-up, and swapping them for the brisk November chill one only experiences in the exposed environment of the (admittedly glorious) Lake District.  Add in a bit of kayaking, hiking and general adventure and I am about to find out whether I’ve got what it takes to keep up with the Thales UK apprentices. 

Trial by fire (or freezing more probably)

Let’s be clear from the off – I’m not a regular hiker or particularly outdoorsy.  I like the idea of being outside and have what I think is a fairly adventurous spirit; I’ve just never really put it into practice that much.  I’m also not very active, I wouldn’t class myself as unfit, but I’m certainly no Olympian.  So the physical element of this adventure will be challenging it itself. 

What I’m more curious about though, is how I’m going to find the professional development side of the experience.  After all, the whole purpose is to utilise these activities to support the apprentices (and now me) to learn essential workplace and leadership skills, and if I don’t make the effort to get the most out of this opportunity it seems like a waste.  But I have to confess to some trepidation; there is potential this experience will expose some real personal vulnerabilities that I’d never recognised (or perhaps acknowledged) before, and this is a scary prospect.  The only thing that’s keeping me from running and hiding under my bed, is the knowledge that all the apprentices I’ll be sharing the experience with will be in the same boat.  In fact, for many of them, this may well be their first foray into the working world, and are therefore likely to be much more wary of what is to come than I am. 

But while nervousness is certainly a part of what I’m feeling as I gather my gear together and get ready to set off, my biggest feeling is of excitement.  I know that no matter what happens, no matter how muddy I get or how badly I embarrass myself in front of my colleagues and the latest generation of Thales UK employees, I will ultimately benefit from the experience.   I’m excited about the opportunities it will afford me to learn more about myself, my skills and my motivations, and whether it’s something positive or an area of weakness, it’s all material I can use to better myself in the long run, and in L&D that’s what it’s all about. 

I’m also really looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with the latest intake of apprentices and feel privileged to be there as they embark on their career journey.  It’s going to be just as rewarding watching them learn about their skills and abilities as it will be to see my own exposed.   I am already anticipating the jubilation that we’ll all feel at the end of the session, and can’t wait to report back on what we learn as we progress through the week’s activities. 

But as always with L&D there are questions I can’t answer until I’ve dug a little deeper.  Will I find my stride and come back to work more confident in my ability to handle new situations and challenges?  Or will I find myself crying in a corner after the first day, too exhausted and scared to plough on?  I guess there’s only one way to find out.  Watch this space….

But if you can’t wait until Monday to read about our latest exploits in The Lake District, check out our earlier blogs, to see what we’re in for.