Why training should be stressful

2 min readMar 29, 2018

It is getting to be my routine to give a training to my local employees whenever I visit the country of operation. There are a lot to tell — how to make excel financial projection, how to make presentation slides, how to make documents, how to do research, how to solve problems, how to think logically, etc.

In the beginning, I thought many will learn how to do it by seeing my work (that’s what I have done through my professional career, i.e., emulating what those better than me do), but a year ago I changed my mind. One enlightening event was the meeting with Kenichi Omae who led the growth of McKinsey Japan Office and who used to provide regular training for McKinsey consultants who surely have high caliber.

The training is typically a few days program. As with driving technique, people learn how to do things by doing not by listening, so I almost always give them huge homework or set an exam which requires much time for preparation. I always see them quite stressed after the second day, as they need to spend a considerable amount of time for homework and preparation.

I’m not being sadistic (rather my preference is the opposite but that’s off the topic). I deliberately do it, because I believe it is how it should be. The time constraint and stress are necessary to make people learn things within a short period. If I gave them enough time, most of them would end up slacking, not acquiring the very skill into which I wanted to initiate them. When I look back my professional career, I learned a lot in stressful situations. We can’t be stressed all the day (then they may die), but sometimes it is a healthy mental load.

Besides, learning new thing is getting out of one’s mental cycle, or his/her usual way of thinking. By definition, the process requires one to think a bit differently, and that inevitably entails stressful experiences.

I know some people don’t like stressful environments at all, and I do respect the way they think. However, I just want to work with people having high aspirations and being able to overcome and learn from the stressful situations.