Why Experiential Learning Is Key To Deepening Trust


I just completed a Reinvent Training which finished on Sunday in New Hampshire.  My partner in these trainings, Ennio Salucci and I are consistently struck with what a privilege it is to do these trainings with uncommon people willing to dig deep in order to grow in their capacity to love others.


The thing I love most about the experiential trainings we do at Reinvent is that we have adequate time during these events to create a powerful experiential learning opportunity for the participants. This particular training is three full days-morning, afternoon and evening. The follow up to this training, The Impact Training is four full days-morning, afternoon and evening. We have around thirty hours “class time” with the participants in the Reinvent Training and around forty hours in the Impact Training.


When you have that kind of time together, you can get some serious work done, if the focus is on experiential learning, rather than just instruction and content dissemination.


But, what we do in these trainings is more than just experiential.
  • It is intensely challenging. It continually invites the participants to challenge their previously held beliefs and orientation to life.
  • It requires that they make commitments to the process.
  • And it continuously challenges participants to question and consider the assumptions they live in, as evidenced by the spontaneous responses they are experiencing in the training in the various exercises we engage.
In my experience, genuine transformation is an embodied experience…it is a whole body experience. It involves not just challenging the status quo intellectual framework you have. It includes noticing, recognizing, and integrating your emotional, instinctual and physical experiences you are having in that specific moment, and adding them to the intellectual considerations you are engaging.


This is a discipline that is rarely practiced in our culture. We are all “in our head.” The great delusion of our culture, in my view, is that transformation can happen by understanding in your mind the distinctions of transformation and then you have it. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Don’t get me wrong. Understanding the distinctions in your mind is important and the first step. It is very rare that anyone actually commits to that level of clarity. So, even that is rare.


But, all you have at that point is more ideas. Until you start walking it out, and noticing what is working and not working and what your ongoing experience is; and start diving into that with curiosity rather than resistance, the entire game is a delusion. You will think you are making progress, but in fact you are just more educated on theoretical constructs, which generates little if any potential for growth.


Knowing the concepts is the start. But, it is only maybe 20% of the equation, in my view. The true “heavy lifting” comes with:
  • walking it out,
  • noticing your experience,
  • allowing that to be the path to deeper learning,
  • This leads to discovering what you didn’t know that you didn’t know. 
Next is coupling that with embracing and becoming an invitation for feedback from those you are in relationship with regarding the impact you are generating.


This process gives us a chance to temper our tendency towards deluding ourselves regarding our impact in life by noticing and considering real world results and input from others.


Then, the last step in this journey is learning how to reinvent your relationship with failure and mistakes—learning not to resist them but welcome them as fresh and new learning opportunities.


It all sounds so simple in theory. But, in reality, it requires will, tenacity, courage and committed purposefulness. It is not for the faint of heart. The alternative is to be captured by the circumstances of our lives and our history. This will lead to us continually striving to shrink life down to a level that is more manageable, less risky and more comfortable. It flattens our experience of living and diminishes our potential for authenticity and connection.


In the Reinvent Training, we do an extended exercise on trust. I was reminded this weekend how embodied our relationship with trust really is and how pervasive that relationship with trust is in all aspects of our life. More on that in the next blog post.