Keeping Up To Date

July 18, 2016

Newspaper stands

A quote often attributed to Henry Ford but often quoted by others says “I know that only half my advertising is effective, the problem is that I don’t know which half.” You could make the same claim for the information that we gather in our role as professionals in learning and development.

This weekend I found myself pondering the need to keep in touch with current ideas and thinking in the world of learning and development. If I’m honest I reckon that there can never be too much information. But like Henry Ford and the others who have used variations of the quote, I know that only half of the information I gather is likely to be of real use.  In fact if the 80/20 principle applies then the truth is the probably only 20% of the information I gather is likely to be useful. The question is which 20%?

I have subscriptions to range of Email lists and newsletters from websites. All of them are useful some of the time but not every part or all the time. So I was mulling over how I process the information so that I am not overwhelmed.

I use filtering fairly heavily. Do whatever works for you but keep your Email inbox free from this information.

You could create an Email account which you use specifically to collect the newsletters.  I do this for subscriptions to services that I buy from so that their business and sales newsletters never come my way until I have time to dip in.  In variably I just click the unsubscribe link but there’s no rush because these Emails never intrude in my mailbox.

You can use filtering in the mailbox to move newsletters into a newsletter folder. They can sit there out of the way until you are ready to review them. Or you can follow my current favourite approach and forward them to a service like Evernote and read them there.

I recommend Evernote (or similar) as a place to collect all the information I think will be useful. It is easily searchable.

When I do go to read them I am, generally ruthless. The delete button is my favourite resource. I try to be courageous and delete anything which doesn’t immediately resonate.

Occasionally something will tickle my interest or give a glimpse of something I feel in bones I should follow up on. They stay in my reading folder or Evernote until I know I have time to follow up.

There are some resources that I know are more consistent in providing useful resource – I give them higher credit in my reading. One of those is the newsletter from Michael Hyatt. It so happens that Michael dealt with this same issue in his podcast this week. Great minds must think alike. Or at least be inspired by similar influences. Michael also commends the delete button. HYe makes the point in his podcast that whatever you delete can be searched for and someone else is bound to have it.

In addition to some of the same ideas as me, Michael recommends scheduling the reading and acting on the information as soon as you can.

But whatever you do to keep abreast of the information you are receiving or capturing be sure to keep on top of it. If you haven’t read it within a week then just delete.

 

Passing through

June 30, 2016
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Tourist

There are times when I feel like an insider when I’m delivering training. I arrive and I know, immediately, that I’m amongst friends. Being an insider is a privileged position. Trusted, welcomed. As an insider I can sit with my colleagues and few words need to be spoken.

At other times I know that I’m just passing through. To be passing through is a common experience. After all, if I’m a stranger, an outsider, then I am the course participants or the organisation I’m supporting may not know me. I may have arrived by recommendation and have to earn my opportunities to speak.

Very occasionally I feel more like a tourist. This is somewhere I don’t want to be. Being a tourist makes the training about me and not about the participants. Last year I changed the job title on my business card – it now says Learning Encourager. If the training is about me and about what I gain then I become the tourist that I don’t want to be.

 

Chaos

June 24, 2016
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flags

I have been pondering whether or not to post a comment today in the light of the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.

I could comment on many aspects suffice to say that I voted to remain but many others of my age and from my part of the UK thought differently.  I suspect that most of us will not be around to observe the legacy we have bequeathed to our children and grand-children.

For now the chaos that I predicted has begun.

For those of us working internationally in learning and development there are difficult days ahead. For the past couple of days bank transfers have been difficult and the cost of delivering training for our friends in the global South looks set to rise. Travel is likely to become more expensive as the pound is weaker and the cost of saving for retirement will increase as financial markets struggle to comprehend what the future holds.

The chaos promises, from my perspective, to continue whilst there is uncertainty. That looks set to be for several years ahead.

A friend wrote, today, “Dear Lord and father of mankind forgive our foolish ways” Whatever the way forward, we are where we are and now we need to work for the best outcomes possible. In the meantime I fear that my friends and colleagues in Africa, Asia and Latin America will see even less support for projects than has been possible even over the past few years.

 

Clumsy and awkward

May 28, 2016
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I met with a student yesterday.

As we talked we reviewed a presentation she had recently made and discussed the challenges we face when we first step forward to speak.

The conversation reminded me of the many times when I have found myself operating in dimensions in which I am rather less comfortable. The well known Myers-Briggs Temperament Analysis identifies the ‘shadow’ side of our temperament. The dimensions which are not natural.

For me, as a somewhat introverted character, working in the extrovert dimension is far from comfortable. As a trainer I am required to function in those extrovert dimensions giving to people, being up-front and in the limelight. Apart from the emotional tiredness that can follow I have become more aware over the years for clumsy and awkward way in which I sometimes find myself interacting. Words and actions seem to ooze from my being which I just know are the most clumsy and awkward that I can be.

Talking with my student friend we both identified the need to be doubly prepared for those awkwardnesses so that they don’t obscure the real purpose of helping others learn and develop.

 

On Riding a Bicycle

April 13, 2016
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Bicycle leaning against a wall

Twenty years or so ago I realised that I was not getting enough exercise. In my early 40s, I was suffering some stress at work and weight was creeping on.

I determined that it was time to dust off my bike. And dust there was aplenty. The trusty stead had followed me for several years. Anyway, it seemed best to just start cycling to work a couple of times a week. 16km didn’t seem to be too much – after all I was fit.

I still remember that first attempt. It took me far longer than I had planned and I wobbled my way along the roads into the city centre. After a week or so my speed picked up and the wobbles gradually subsided.

Despite my initial struggles I discovered that there is truth in the adage ‘you can’t forget how to ride a bike.’

This week I returned to a project that has been on my agenda for sometime. However, I kept putting off the day when I would start writing again. I was, secretly, anxious about putting putting pen-to-paper (well actually fingers to the keyboard). But I discovered that writing is a little like riding a bicycle. My skills may need dusting off. I may have a few wobbles and it may take me longer now. But using those skills becomes familiar the more that they are pressed into action.

Skills are old friends. When you meet up you are often chatting along as if you have never been apart.

I wonder what else I need to dust down? For now, it is that time of year when the fair-weather cyclist pumps up the tyres. I’m watching the forecast to see when the first journey to office for 2016 will take place.