Alaska Guide Training, When Training Goes Bad

Someone asked me recently in an interview what was the most frustrating part of the Alaska Guide Training Program that Pioneer Outfitters has in the mountains of Alaska. The most frustrating part of being the Lead Guide Trainer for Alaska Professional Guides is knowing, when training goes bad.

Training Goes Bad

From time and experience, there is nothing worse, than a young Guide Trainee is not ready for the responsibilities of representing an Outfitter, keeping a guest safe and supporting Alaska’s oldest industry. Knowing this, and knowing that the Guide Trainee truly believes he has already learned everything he needs to know and that you are now wasting his time.

As one of the only state approved Guide Training Facilities in Alaska, Pioneer Outfitters has reason to be very proud.  It has become increasingly clear as to why other very professional, experienced and capable training facilities threw in the towel. When the training goes bad, for those with compassion and integrity, the blow can be devastating.

When Training Goes Bad

Pioneer Outfitters has been training Alaska Big Game Guides from it’s beginning in 1924. This year marks the 90th Anniversary of this incredible company and family. The Survival & Guide Training Program is a hands-on program and unlike any training program, anywhere. When a Trainee completes his or her training, receives his or her Alaska Guide License and hired by a Master or Registered Guide to take clients into the wilderness of Alaska to pursue and harvest the Big Game animal(s) that brought the client to Alaska ~ he or she better be ready.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  ~Winston Churchill

More than ready however, is the fact that remains, more than anything else, an Assistant Guide represents the Outfitter. They represent everything the Outfitter stands for ~ and against. They represent the state of Alaska. They can also, even without intent, destroy an Outfitter with poorly worded statements, poor judgments and poorly executed adventures. These also lead to the worst-case scenarios, as poor judgments lead to sloppy safety procedures.

When Training Goes Bad

I use the phrase “When Training Goes Bad” for two specific reasons. First, for shock effect; to get your attention, because it is important. It is important to understand, and it is important to guard against it- for all of us, in ourselves. When we (any one of us) “know it all” we have basically stopped learning. That is the kiss of death for any career. Don’t do that.

The second reason that I use the phrase; “When Training Goes Bad” is when the Trainee suddenly decides for him (or her) self that they already know everything there is to know and are ready to go hunting! … Yep. Hunting. Fail. Guiding has NOTHING to do with hunting.

A Professional Guide is so much more than a hunting partner. Hunting is the smallest skill needed by a Professional Guide. A Professional Guide is part psychologist, part tour director, part lands and wildlife biologist and knowledgeable about local customs and peoples. Being capable of being a companion to a client or guest of the Outfitter and representing that Outfitter in the best possible manner for both the Outfitter and the client’s enjoyment and benefit are a must to the future of the entire industry, not only one Adventure.

When Training Goes Bad

The point of writing today’s post is it doesn’t really matter if you are an Alaska Guide Trainee or an apprentice or student to any other career, this is a stage that so many people come to, as the excitement grows and impatience raises it’s ugly head. Sadly, it happens to Professionals all the time, it isn’t limited to people aspiring to a particular profession. When one decides that “they know it all” about their chosen field, they basically have ceased being curious and have stopped looking for new answers as well as closed themselves off to learning new ways of looking at something in particular from those they are training or new to that field.

Here are three things we can all do to protect against When Training Goes Bad:

  • Keep Learning! It is teaching/training/leading by example. Never stop learning!
  • Take Responsibility! Another skill to develop and keep sharp, taking responsibility is an integral piece of your integrity and professional ethics. When you screw up, own it! Make amends; share your experience with others. Not only does this help to assure this same mistake is never repeated but it may also help someone else not to make the same one.
  • Listening is as important as communicating! Hell, yes! If all you do is share your inexhaustible monologue and never actually listen to anyone responding or offering their ideas into the mix, how can you continue to learn, grow or develop? Holy cow.

What do YOU think? Have you ever had your own Training go bad? Or witness one you are training completely shut down, in the home stretch? Please share it here, and possibly your story may help one other not to fall down that path.

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