How Being a Mom Made Me a Better Facilitator


Today – January 28th – is my daughter’s 18th birthday. As this milestone has approached, I have been exceedingly reflective (read: sappy and emotional). Naturally, I’ve been thinking of how quickly she has grown up and what an incredible young adult (gulp) she has become, and how many exciting things are in store for her this year – a trip to Haiti in March to work in an orphanage, high school graduation in May and starting college in August, just to name a few.

Also, while I’m reminiscing, I’ll put this out there: I actually went into labor with her on Sunday, January 26, 1997 – Super Bowl Sunday (yes, it took that long). The New England Patriots LOST that night (!!!). So, no offense to any of you New Englanders, but maybe history will repeat itself THIS weekend, even though they’re playing the Seahawks this year; in 1997, the Green Bay Packers hoisted the Lombardi trophy.

Yes, I’m from Indy and a big Colts fan. No, I’m not rooting against the Patriots because of the now-infamous “Deflategate” controversy. I’m rooting against them because that’s what we do here in Indy…we love the Colts, and whoever beats the Patriots.

I digress. This post isn’t about the Colts. Or the Patriots. Or Deflategate. This one is dedicated to my best girl, Meghan.


Meghan was a very little girl when I began my career in workplace learning. I’ve learned so much since those early days. Technology has changed as well – making our jobs easier in some ways, more complex in others. Through it all, the fundamental rules of adult learning and leading engaging training experiences haven’t changed that much, but I have learned how to be a more effective facilitator…and I believe being this girl’s (and her brother’s!) mom has contributed to this in a few ways:

1. I’ve learned how to prioritize.

Whether managing the day job + kids’ sports + household chores + homework + this blog + a multitude of other activities, it’s critical to prioritize the need-to-happens and balance the want-to-happens. The same goes for leading a training session – often, we are faced with more content than we have facilitation time. Or more requests than we can allocate resources. We must be skilled at not only asking good questions during the needs analysis/instructional design processes, but carving out learning opportunities to maximize the time spent with participants.

2. I’ve learned how to put others’ needs ahead of my own.

As a parent, it never really seems to be about you, does it? The same goes for facilitation…sometimes, facilitators tend to embrace the “stage” aspect of the job. While that’s great, it’s important to remember that we are there to support and engage learners. It’s all about them. All the time. The best learning professionals understand and embrace this.

3. I’ve learned how to listen. Like, really listen.

Sometimes, it’s not about what’s being said….it’s about what’s not being said. I’ve been there for my kids through sniffles and puppy love, homework stress and sports drama. Kids don’t always just come out and say what’s on their mind (particularly when they become teenagers!). Consider your participants…they don’t always speak up when they don’t understand. They don’t always know what to ask. Anticipate this, be observant, and listen with intention.


I don’t know if Meghan will ever see this post…high school seniors aren’t exactly the target demographic for this little blog. But this post is dedicated to my beautiful, dynamic daughter. Pretty much the funniest person I know. Wise beyond her years. Responsible AND adventurous. Happy 18th birthday, sweet girl!


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