Multi-dimensional Learning for Grownups

January 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

When I start something new, especially when it comes to work, I read and research a lot and plug into some quality video training if it’s a new technical skill I’m working to acquire.  I’ve recently started a new job and while a lot of my experience as a development lead applies, there are new skills I need to learn (and I love this!) in order to do my job well.  Reading books and blogs plugs me into the wealth of experience that others have gained over the course of their careers.

Over the past few weeks, I have started reading some really awesome books, and I am learning so much that I can apply at work.  However, I have had a nagging feeling over the past few days that something big was missing…that there is a disconnect in what I’m reading and learning on my own, the depth of my understanding, and my ability to extract the insight and practices from these books and blogs and put them into practice. Yesterday, I figured it out although I’m struggling still to find the proper words to describe it.  Nevertheless, I’m going to try.

I love learning in a group setting.  I like hearing what other people have gleamed from the information that I may have missed.  I like when the experiences of others color their understanding and maybe they disagree with the author as a result.  If it is a coding technique or language I am learning, I like to whip up a demo (I’m a hands-on visual learner), stop someone in the hall, and say, “Hey, look at this!”.  If I’m lucky, that person will say something like, “Cool! Do you know about xyz?” and maybe offer a suggestion or alternative solution.  It’s discussion, feedback, collaboration, multi-dimensional learning.

Years ago, this is what drove what I like to refer to as my “social media experiment”.  Could I use social media, specifically Twitter, as a learning tool?  The result was a resounding yes, and it still is.  Sharing and discussing a blog post is easy.  Twitter is good for short responses and blog comments are good for longer ones. There are also a few apps that build on Twitter that enhance that experience, depending on your needs.  Sharing and discussing material in books is different.  I mostly read books using the Kindle app on my iPad now which has a sharing feature, but what about discussion and the multi-dimensional learning I mentioned a few sentences ago?  Writing about what I’m reading on my blog and eliciting conversation is one option, but it doesn’t replace the off-the-cuff responses you get from an in-person group study especially if it is professional in nature.  People are more guarded with how they respond and document their reactions and opinions online – as they should be.  This has been at the heart of my desire to go back to school for a master’s degree (along with an ordered curriculum), but I continue to question the timing and my options.

I experimented with building and maintaining a list of what I was reading and wanted to read on LinkedIn in hopes that someone I am connected with would be reading the same and want to talk about it.  Maybe I could even inspire people to read who weren’t!  That’s not been nearly as effective as I had hoped.  So, I’m going to try something else.  First, I’m going to try to write more about what I am reading, although I’ll be honest – this is more time consuming, and I question the degree to which I’ll follow through. After all, it cuts into my actual reading time.  I also have social media policies to adhere to.  Second, I’m listing the things I’m reading below in hopes to connect, discuss, inspire, grow, grow others… After this lengthy blog post, I think you get the idea!

Inspired: How to Create Products That Customers Love by Marty Cagan

Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun

The Process Myth (blog post along with others) from RandsInRepose

So, if you’re interested and want to connect, discuss, get multi-dimensional in your learning and really, really make things happen, let me know!  You know how to reach me 🙂

Jen’s Three Words for 2012

January 2, 2012 § 4 Comments

I absolutely love Chris Brogan’s idea of using three words annually that help define your goals and experiences over the course of the year.  In his post on his three words for 2012, he describes them as words that  can

“be used as lighthouses to guide you through stormy seas, that can be used as flags on the battlefield of your challenges, words that will bolster you and give you a direction that goes beyond the goals you might attach as a result of these words”.

He also cites another post that suggests using the twitter hashtag #12in12 to mark the execution of your three words every month.  I’m going to try to remember to do this.

My Lighthouse Words for 2012

Decisive

I can just hear my college friends laughing and nodding their heads!  To my defense however, I’m not talking about what I’m wearing or what I’m doing on Friday night.

Decisive is defined as having the power to decide or determine an outcome.  It describes behavior that is resolute, determined, and unquestionable.  For some time now, especially in the later half of 2011, I have spent ample time in wait-and-see mode doing far too much introspection leaving me in some sort of personal analysis paralysis.   This word also connects with one of my words from last year – fearless – because the inability to make a decision for me has often stemmed from fear of failure.  I don’t think I’m failing often enough.

In my work, I’ll start by clearly defining my goals, deciding if I am going back to school and exactly what for, and being more purposeful in what I will be spending my time learning.  I’m pondering the value of becoming less of a generalist and more of a specialist.

With my children, I will be more consistent in how and when they are disciplined.  I want them to have zero doubt about how they are expected to behave in various situations and what our house rules are.

Growth

With a handful of side projects already lined up, I’m excited about the new things I will be learning and doing. I am also eager to grow my monthly income.  I’m hopeful that my 9-5 will provide some opportunities for growth as well.

2011 brought many new wonderful people into my life, and I hope to continue growing those friendships.  Over time and miles, I have also neglected some of my dearest friendships.  I am excited about tending better to those relationships.

My kids are amazing and gifted, and as a parent, there is nothing more gratifying than to see their pride grow in their work and abilities.  I will provide opportunities for growth for them especially in the arts, experience, health, and charity, being more purposeful and setting aside time and funding.  Rather than pushing my interests on them, I will seek activities for them which appeal to their natural strengths and interests.

Regarding my health, I will stop the growth of my waistline!  I would be lying if I omitted this one.  It’s only 10 pounds, but I hope to lose it in three months.

Disciplined

I almost chose “purposeful” for my third word, but I chose “disciplined” instead because purposefulness is implied yet there is the inclusion of training – mind, will, body – and self-control.  Without discipline, I don’t feel I can attain growth in any area of my life.  This is especially true for growth in my work and education.  Free time is not something I have an abundance of, and I need to be self-disciplined in how I use that time, especially at night when I have the time and ability work on side-projects and learn new things.  I’ve always considered myself self-disciplined.  I remember as a kid even creating tests for myself just to see if I could do it.  It was very gratifying for me when I did and still is.  I stopped smoking, became a runner, gave up soft drinks, and became a vegetarian because I had the self-discipline to see it through and not give up easily.  Recently, I think I’ve been less self-disciplined than I should be – thus the 10 pound weight gain and increase in personal debt.  I hope to reduce both.  I’ll be adding weight training to my workouts again and re-establishing a family budget in January.

As I’m wrapping up this post, I’m struck by the clarity on how each word builds upon the other.  I’m also once again feeling introspective about my failure to apply my three words from last year more thoroughly throughout my life.  Forward, focused and fearless became diluted over the months by a sense of that same “wait-and-see” mindset which now makes my stomach literally churn.  I’m done with that and moving on, approaching this year hands-on with intention and courage.

CHEERS!

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