Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have so much information and so many ideas you don’t know what to do about them? No time, no mental space, no emotional energy, but you know you have to do something? Paralysed.


It isn’t about filtering, curation or any of that stuff, it is simply about breaking the “block” to get something into action, to move one’s head forward, to free up the congestion and to get to feel good about what is in there bursting to get out. 


I have felt like that recently – call it information overload and that would be under-estimating it.  Call it procrastination and that would be downplaying it. Call it burn out – not likely, far too much energy, but I needed a trigger to get something through the eye of that needle and into a space where it could grow and flourish (sorry about the mixed metaphors!)


It’s happened in the last week!


I came back from Learning Solutions 2013 with my head spinning with the great insights drawn collectively from Robert Ballard (@evnautilus), Dan Coyle (@danielcoyle)  and Yvonne Camus (@yvonnecamus)  inspiring and exciting presentations. It was truly a great conference, not just for those keynotes, but also for the clear messages from Reuben Tozman (@reubentozman) and Tom Spiglanin (@tomspiglanin) in particular – one opening our eyes to a scary future, the other showing a simple example of creating effectiveness in using social media in learning. But there was something more for me – and something much more fundamental. Yes, it was great to meet people who have become friends over several years through the various media, but this time there was more.


I have been writing periodically about the power of communities in our cyber world, and last year I wrote a series about the need for humanity and mutual respect in those communities. Now, I have felt it in a new way.


My insight from Orlando was in the “going beyond” – and what it takes to get there. Direction, courage, resilience, energy, determination and hard work – but something more as well. Dan Coyle started it – putting me once more in touch with superior performance achieved through real subtleties in coaching. Those tiny differences that make the difference in our lives, the things that put us in “flow”, that provide new and extraordinary energy, that makes us feel positive and able to push ourselves and break through to high levels of achievement. One of my friends at the conference continued it, affirming that my relationship with them contained some of those subtle elements. It reminded me of a conversation a few weeks previously with another colleague who had said similar things. At the time I had been embarrassed, but now see the need to take that comment very seriously.  It is what quantifying ourselves in meaningful terms is all about – what releases us to be the best we can be and to help others along that road.


And then came the breakthrough – a conversation with my friend Nigel Paine where he told me about primary children in Hong Kong being engaged from age 4 with developing a set of behaviours that when applied will lead to high performance. Surprise, surprise, the list fits superbly on top of those described graphically, emotionally and analytically by the Learning Solutions speakers. Of course, these are the very things that the keynotes were exemplifying as the ingredients of high performance – wow, they are being taught from age 4 in a school!


Coming away from that conversation I suddenly felt released from not knowing what to do with what I had experienced. First, it was a boost to me, affirming that some at least of what I do is of value to others. Second, it was confirmation that context, values and relationships are the key to effective learning. Third, it re-confirmed to me the need for humanity in our online communities.


I have written previously about the need for respect.  I now believe it goes way beyond that – to the need for deep concern and caring for those we may never meet in the flesh but with whom we conduct meaningful relationships every day. Being introduced to a chat conversation, open to its members, all learning professionals, at any time and for any purpose is instantly a close mirror of the healthy “at work” culture and environment I have always valued being part of and have sought to develop.


Providing comment and feedback that is specific, contains feeling and is encouraging even when it is “tough love” is a goal to which to aspire – Dan Coyle’s beyond 60%! Without a depth of relationship with the wonderful people in our virtual circles our environment becomes a very lonely, harsh and negative place. The virtual world with its instant and increasingly rapid and cryptic communication is not an easy place to achieve, let alone perfect it, but I now know the value of trying to go beyond!


Thank you to Dan, Yvonne, Robert, Nigel and my friends and colleagues who have helped me to this new understanding.


In a way I have come home – but only to start out (aged 65) on a new journey that will be seeking constantly to develop a new and more feeling reality in my relationships with my colleagues in our cyber world.


If we make the effort, stretch ourselves to take the risks, and devote the effort needed to the task, we can truly help each other to reach new heights, perhaps previously undreamt of.

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