Learning and performance: exploiting your learner’s full potential


During the Bootcamp on Training Strategies, Maxime Boilard, president and coach at CANU EXCELLENCE ON BOARD, presented an interactive workshop on the different ways to exploit learners’ full potential. Here is an overview of his fascinating presentation.

“Exploiting learners’ full potential means creating an environment that fosters skills development, that is to say an environment where the learner is allowed to make mistakes. To do so, learners must be removed from the place where they are expected to perform in a professional capacity,” he assures. According to him, this new environment must be stable, but also allow learners to take controlled risks and explore their inner workings.

Hooked on a feeling

Let’s take the example of a canoe athlete who wants to improve their performance. They could train their rowing skills…on a dock. “The canoeist should chiefly be looking to experience new sensations. Therefore, their environment must be stabilized—here, outside the water—to allow them to get in touch with their emotions and explore them,” he explains. “To speed up the process, the athlete will explore different levels of resistance: rowing on the dock without a paddle, then with the paddle in the wrong direction and, finally, still on the dock, putting the paddle in the water and attempting to move the lake (Watch the video). Exaggeration is a crucial part of the process: “It’s deliberate. This way, new synapses are created and the athlete will be able to leave the dock and apply their new knowledge in the canoe, where it’s less stable.” To extend the sports analogy further, the time allocated for learning is also a key element to consider. “This method obviously shouldn’t be used the day before the race, when it’s too late… It’s best to use it when there’s less at stake, when there’s less pressure to perform and there’s no need to deliver the goods the next day.”

The body and practice

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Let’s carry the analogy back to a professional setting. “For an organization, this means rethinking what ‘practice’ really means. When you’re working with the body, no one expects you to be successful on the first try. Look at how long it takes to learn to write… It’s important for the company to reflect on what encompasses practicing a skill.”

In this context, the role the body plays in the learning process must be considered. “We have to remember how we learn, which is far from being limited to the cognitive level. Knowledge is implemented when it corresponds to an action, a behaviour or a perception. The body can help us approach learning in a more realistic way, be more focused on the present and build a learning plan,” explains Mr. Boilard. He also notes that no one ever assumes that someone is ready for a marathon after their first practice. “Yet, whenever anyone takes a class on sales, they’re tempted to try to implement everything they’ve learned all at once. We have to practice learning,” he concludes.



Maxime Boilard


Since 2007, Olympian Maxime Boilard helps managers and entrepreneurs to achieve their full potential and encourages having a greater understanding of performance, achieving results, collective momentum, individual responsibilities, etc.



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