A Few Reflections on 2021, Contemplations on 2022, and a Twitter Poem

As I reflect upon 2021 and contemplate 2022, there are so many wonderful things to write about. Choosing among them is difficult, yet worthwhile. Let’s take a quick look at this past year.

2021

Living Alone

Personally, this past year was one in which I learned about living alone. Now that the boys are grown, and I am recently divorced, after being married for over 20 years, living alone has been painful and beautiful. Both, wouldn’t you know.

It’s been a time of great reflection for me, contemplating my life up to this point. A time of grieving, and a time of great joy. I’ve learned more about myself as a human being on this planet this past year than I have in the past 20 years. Solitude is like that. A gift.

I am looking forward to more time alone, and to the learning that comes as the days, weeks, and months unfold this next year. I look forward to all of it.

The Team

The team is healthy and well, and is, quite frankly, one of the best noncredit education teams in the State of Oregon. Some would argue in the Nation; and, I wouldn’t argue, as it is quite possibly true.

We’ve been through a lot as a team these past 4.5 years, and the resiliency, innovation, and heart this team has displayed and continues to display is astonishing.

We are currently working on many new projects, the output of which will continue to increase access to education for many populations that face barriers to education in this country. That we continue to create bridges to education for our local community, and across the state, nation, and globe through our new remote program models fills my heart with joy.

The Blog

Well, if someone would have told me in the summer of 2020 that at the close of 2021 the blog would have acquired almost 2,400 followers, which it has, I would have listened carefully, yet would have set a more realistic goal, which I did.

My goal to close this year was 1,600 followers, and we have surpassed this number quite substantially, and I owe that to each of you. You have built this blog and the wonderfully thriving space we share together, and I honor and appreciate each of you for being here.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me, and for creating a space full of love, light, and compassion.

Writing

Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be writing poetry at the rate I am today. Writing poetry began in the summer of 2020 as a way to continue to process my own internal work, which is a part of my spiritual practice.

It started with a poem I wrote in response to another blog, I think, and from there began to blossom in my mind and heart, and today, I write poetry all day. Seriously. You should see the post-it’s I have laid out everywhere. It’s quite comical, and lovely.

This year I was blessed to be a part of our beloved Astha’s Anthology, Utmost Feelings, and several other Anthologies through True Dreamster. I was also blessed to have been published at Spillwords Press three times, at Word Weavings, and at MasticadoresUSA, and MasticadoresIndia, several times each. As you know, I am now a regular monthly contributor to MasticadoresIndia, which is a dream come true.

I am grateful to each of these wonderful editors for believing in my work, and for supporting me. They are amazingly talented people, and I am lucky to know them and to have my work published in their respective publications.

2022

I look forward to this coming year and know that there will be challenges, just as there will be many blessings. I’ve learned a lot this year, and I am grateful for each lesson.

I plan to continue to learn more about myself this year, continuing to dive deep within, uncovering more aspects of my human beingness, and the love I have for everyone and everything on this planet.

The team will continue to thrive and grow this year, as we set our sights on making 2022 another year of exceeding service capacities to our local community, by making noncredit education available to everyone, everywhere.

The blog will see a lot more poetry this coming year, and will likely see the Blogger’s Diary post continue, yet I am reflecting upon iterating the latter. I’ve not yet had the insight needed to do so, however, so we will see.

I am currently looking for new publications to submit poetry to this next year, and have already happened upon one, which I will submit to soon. I was planning to compile a book over this winter break, alas, that is not going to happen. Thus, it may be in 2022 that a debut book is forthcoming. All I can write now is that I will know when the time is right.

I am closing this 2021 reflection and 2022 contemplation with a Twitter poem.

as the earth swallows me whole
it is our love to
behold

a spotlight drowned

like
in the east
the sun rising &
the love deep within me
arising

a destiny ground
as mind & heart
are brokered with peace
no sound

needed
for it is in this display
of love where we are
found

You can see the original Twitter poem here, amongst other poems, and follow me on Twitter here.

I want to thank each of you again for being a part of my life. Being here is a blessing, and I cherish each interaction I have with you. You are appreciated immensely.

Alright, that’s all for now.

May the New Year bring you joy, peace, love, and many blessings.

Sending you all my love.


Photo by Tumisu, Pixabay

Photo by MAKY_OREL, Pixabay


#poetry, #2021, #2022, #blogging, #contemplations, #development, #leadership, #life, #love, #masticadoresindia, #masticadoresusa, #noncrediteducation, #poems, #publications, #reflections, #spillwords, #wordweavings, #writing, #year-in-review

Nights End

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

The view
from atop,
seems far to drop,
into thinking
and behaving
in new ways,
a fresh perspective,
is what they say,
can go a long way.

I concur
with these remenints
of the past,
and wonder, at times,
if they truly last.

Do we learn from
our past misdeeds?

And create anew
from a space that seeds
humanity,
with a newness
and a brilliance,
we can pass along
to all those who come
after we pass?

Questions to ponder,
and reflect upon,
as we meander
our way
through a kaleidoscope
of memory
and present temereties.

Knowing too
that these shall pass,
like all the rest. For, in
each moment
lives the gift of choice
we’ve been given, yes,
one of our true tests.

Study well, then,
my dear friends,
for the tests
continue to come
well into
our night’s end.

#poetry, #development, #future, #learning, #life, #love, #nightsend, #past, #poem, #poems, #present, #resilience, #tests

A Blogger’s Diary 3/14/21: 2 Writing Reflections, Gardening, and Sleep

I am pleased to report, we’ve had some lovely sunny weather the past few days. It’s been beautiful, and has warmed up 10 or so degrees.

In this part of the United States, March is typically the month where the weather begins to shift. While we will still have much more rain to come in March and April, we will continue to get more sun as we all progress towards spring.

I’ll have some more about the weather and my activities related to sunny weather in a moment. First, let’s have a couple writing reflections for this week.

2 Writing Reflections

A Reason

The poem A Reason occurred to me as I was reflecting upon my time at University. I went to school to pursue, at first, Sociology, and then later, Human Development and Family Studies. While my undergraduate degree, at 33 years old, was difficult, my graduate degree, starting at 38 and finishing at 42, was extremely difficult. The difference?

Why was graduate school so challenging? It all had to do with how I was thinking at that time. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had fallen into a very negative and cynical interior dialogue with myself, that I didn’t know how to escape.

In fact, I wouldn’t fully “escape” this negative self-talk until completing my degree and coming to work at the community college, which I’ve written a little about in other posts.

At the time my negative self-talk was at its pinnacle, I was always searching for a reason, yet I was all the while looking in the wrong direction. Focusing outside of myself, instead of within. It’s not a demerit, it happened just as it was supposed to, just like me typing this blog post right now.

Yet, at the time, I didn’t know how to be in touch with myself, and it would take me several years, slowly, to learn through the guidance of my life coach. The point?

We all have negative self-talk. It’s not who you are. Your thoughts and feelings are not who you are. And, when we search in the right place for a reason, we will find a well that never runs dry.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

A Developmental Moment #6: Why Learning to Ask for Help is Necessary and Needed

I enjoyed writing, A Developmental Moment #6: Why Learning to Ask for Help is Necessary and Needed, most, because I spent many, many, years, my entire adult life, in fact, never asking for help. Not because, mind, I didn’t want to, rather because I didn’t know how. Further, I imagined that asking for help was in some way making me appear weak, and in some way deficient.

I think this type of thinking is especially prevalent in the United States, where the concept of individualism is so ingrained into all aspects of the country’s social institutions. The issue?

The concept of individualism is just that; a concept. It is illusory, as I’ve written about in other posts. Whether we actually ask for help, or not, we are always being helped by others. At the grocery store, gas station, coffee shop, or wherever you like to go. There is always someone there serving. Being of service. And, we are able to get the things we need, or want, because people are serving. Simple.

We can all learn to ask for help. Like all things in life, it takes practice, which I write about in this post. Starting small, and building from there. Next time you are feeling stressed, and know you are in need of help, ask. Ask someone that is close to you to assist you. There’s no demerit in it, and we are not deficient when we ask for help.

It’s the opposite. Asking for help is courageous, a sign of strength, and very wise.

Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

Gardening

Alright, now that we are in March, it’s time to, if you garden, to get seeds and garden plots ready. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I moved to the other side of Corvallis a year ago now, and there is a lovely community garden about a mile from my place. And?

Well, I called Parks and Recreation last week, which runs the garden, and they had a spot! It’s 10’x20′, which admittedly is a little more space than I was looking for, however, I took it, and am very excited. I’ve not participated in a community garden in about 4 years, and am looking forward to gardening, yes please, and am also looking forward to meeting some new people. Also, yes please.

I am already working on a new post about my gardening experience, which I will be publishing in the next week or two.

Photo by Cris Saur on Unsplash

Sleep

I’m going to leave you this week, with the Monday message going out to the team tomorrow. Sleep is so important, as is understanding that when our sleep patterns iterate, like all things in life tend to, to listen to our bodies, and know that nothing in this world stays the same, even when we think it does. Here is the message.

This past year, I’ve been reflecting upon and experiencing new sleeping patterns. I’ve typically been the person that likes to stay up late into the evening. Well, about two years ago, this pattern began to change, and then? 

In the past year, my sleeping patterns have iterated a couple of times more. Beginning with, as I’ve mentioned to many of you, late afternoon, and early evening, at times, naps. And, now?

Now, the naps are not as present, yet going to bed at a much earlier hour is, as is getting up much earlier. The point?

There is no one way that sleeping occurs; and, actually, there is no one way anything occurs. Life iterates over time, and when we are present to new things, sleeping patterns, eating habits, whatever they may be for us, we have an opportunity, through new experiences, to learn more about who we are as human beings.

I invite you to always listen to your body, and when you are tired, to sleep; hungry, to eat. And, when not, well, to not.

Remember, there is no one way that life occurs on this planet. When we make sure to get our quiet time, as we’ve discussed the past couple of months, we can hear more, learn more, experience more, and be more.

Alright, that’s all for this week.

Have a wonderful week everyone.

#poetry, #areason, #askingforhelp, #blog, #blogger, #bloggers-diary, #blogging, #change, #courage, #development, #gardening, #poem, #sleepingpatterns, #spring, #strength, #wisdom

Leading From Within

An Exploration of 4 Years Inside A Non Credit Department at the Local Community College

Linn-Benton Community College - Home | Facebook
Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, Oregon

As I continue to reflect upon the last 4 years in the position I hold at the College, I learn more about myself, and about being a human being on this planet.

It is funny to think that leading a team at a small community college in Albany, Oregon, would provide insights of this kind, and yet, they do. Why?

Because no matter where you lead, it’s you doing the leading, for one, and two, all contexts to some extent are the same. Yes, the challenges, people, systems, and structures, are different, yet you are there, and you are always getting to know, and developing yourself and other people. Same.

After spending time in leadership in the private sector, and now having done so in the public sector, there are several things that we will discuss in this new series that are similar; and, in some ways, mirror each other.

In this first installment in this new series, I will lay out a brief outline, if you will, of the posts to come. It will be a way to set the stage for the concepts we will discuss, unpack, and walk through together.

I’m going to frame this first entry, and the following entries, by year, which will provide us a base from which to work through the narrative to follow. Ready? Alright, here we go.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

2016-17

I remember well when the job description for the position I currently hold, Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, landed on my desk. I was working in a program at the college, which was struggling, and in threat of being eliminated. In fact, the program has been eliminated.

I looked over the position description, talked to my wife, friends, and family, and took a walk with a colleague, who asked me this question. Are you an operations man, Jeff? Whoa. Was I?

I was very unsure, and needed to think about it. Here are some of the considerations I made previous to applying to the position, which, I think, are quite generalizable.

  • Reflecting upon my work and academic career.
  • Reflecting upon what I would bring to the position.
  • Doing research about the position.
  • Having conversations with the hiring supervisor.
  • Having conversations with staff in the department.

There were more, bet you get the idea. It is important when making a life change to make all of the considerations and reflections we feel necessary. What happened? Well, I ended up saying this to my then wife.

If it was meant to be, we will know by getting the offer; and, if not, then not.

Of course, you know that I got the offer, and have been in the position for almost 4 years. And, what was the first year like? Hell and heaven all rolled into one. Kinda like life.

2017-18

The first year, especially the first six months, was extremely painful. One of the most painful experiences of my life. Why? Because all day every day, I was outside of my comfort zone. I was also, at this time, not treating my mind and body very kindly.

Here is what the first year looked like.

  • Breakdown central.
  • Remembering who I am.
  • Development outside of the college.
  • Life coach.
  • Breakdown to breakthrough becomes a reality.
  • Relationship development, with myself, and the team.

I say often when talking about that first year, that that was the year of relationships. Yes, we did other things, which I’ve written about in other posts, yet the basis for almost every action that year was developing deeper relationships with ourselves and each other. Painful in many ways, yes, and beautiful in many more.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

2018-19

In the second year, things started to move. Meaning, we began to move, well, almost like a team. We were getting closer, and yet, had a lot more work to do.

Here is what the second year looked like.

  • Process and system improvement.
  • People in the right positions.
  • Vision, mission, goals.
  • Developing priorities.
  • Metrics and measurement.
  • Internal advocacy.
  • External relationships.

As we then moved into year 3, the team became more aligned, and we began to get traction in all areas of our business. As a matter of fact, in the fall of 2019 we were on pace to grow our service to the local communities by another 10%. Amazingly fun.

2019-20

Then, as we moved from fall to winter, we continued our alignment trajectory, and, of course, you all know what happened in early 2020. Yep. A pandemic.

Here is what that looked like.

  • Team alignment.
  • Gaining traction.
  • Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
  • Pandemic?
  • Reprioritizing.
  • Creating 5 new business models.
  • Community response.

Initially, we were wrestling with questions, such as could we deliver completely remote classes. At that time, we did not have remote offerings, so there were no processes or systems to draw upon. Yet, we ended up taking all 5 business models completely remote, and the community response was stellar.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

2020-21

As we entered year 4, all 5 programs were either creating and delivering remote classes and training, or would be by the fall of 2020. And, there was a lot of work to do to continue the momentum we created earlier that year.

Here is what that looked, and well, is like.

  • Creating all new processes and systems.
  • From disruption to sustainability.
  • Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
  • Engagement, relationships, conversion, process and priorities.
  • Planning for the future.
  • 10 business models?

And for next year? Well, I’ve actually been reflecting upon this question quite a bit. Someone asked me recently, what do you see for our work as we, at some point, begin to offer in-person classes again. First, I think offering in-person classes again is still in the distant future, yet I do have some thoughts.

What’s Next?

As we move into the second-half of the 2020-21 school year, we are offering new classes and training, and filling them up with local community members.

I see a 2 to 3 year slow progression from completely remote classes and training, to what I think will be a hybrid-model of both remote and in-person classes and training in the future.

What will the percent mix be of remote and in-person classes in the future? I don’t know. I do think, however, that, unlike when the pandemic started here locally, it will not be sudden. It will take time.

And, that’s okay. There is no rush. We will meet the community needs as they change. That’s part of what we do, and what we do well.

Alright, that completes the overview of the Leading From Within series. I look forward to future posts, where I can share, in more detail, how each of these years has impacted me as a leader, and, even more importantly, as a human being.

#alignment, #business, #coaching, #development, #engagement, #grwoth, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #leadingfromwithin, #ledaershipdevelopment, #metrics, #pandemic, #relationships, #strategicthinking, #systems, #teamdevelopment

A Developmental Moment #4: What Does Influence Mean and Why Does it Matter?

The Differences Between Internal and External Influence and Their Relationship to Service

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

As I was pondering the next developmental moment, and was considering influence as a topic, I had to stop, and reflect upon the past three years. What to say about influence?

Well, as with most things in my life today, an insight did occur, which will now come out through me and to you. Fun.

Alright, so influence is an important topic when you are leading teams; and, well, I do believe it is an important topic in everyone’s development, regardless of their iteration of self-development, or their interest in leadership. Why?

Because, we all will, at some point, apply for a job, need to grow our network, and, or, seek new areas of self-expression. And, to be fully self-expressed, or, rather, to self-express yourself fully, it is nice to understand the concept of influence. Let’s do just that then. Take a look at how I interpret the concept of influence.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

influence

verb /ˈɪnfluəns/ 

to have an effect on the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially by giving them an example to follow.

influence something, influence how, where, etc. to have an effect on a particular situation and the way that it develops.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go.

Alright, so here’s what we have for influence; to have an effect on a particular situation and the way it develops, or the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially in regard to providing them an example to follow.

Now let’s discuss influence in two different ways. Let’s take a look at internal influence, and external influence. Both are important, and both are needed. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Internal Influence

When I write the phrase internal influence, I am referring to your influence within the business, organization, or institution in which you work.

Understanding influence as an opportunity to build cultural capital inside of the business, organization, or institution in which you work is important for a leader to consider. If your influence wanes, it may be hard, for example, to garner political support on a project your team is working on.

However, if your influence is strong, or even adequate, garnering support will be easier. Pretty simple.

What I’ve found to be most true about internal influence is that being who you really are is of utmost importance. Meaning, to be the authentic leader you know yourself to be.

Yes, we all have to make concessions at times, and, yet, we all have the creative power to effect change. And, this is true, even when our influence is bourgeoning.

A quick aside. Influence, like most things in life, lives along a spectrum. Meaning, that influence is not binary. You gain influence over time; and, it takes time.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, okay, well, how do we create influence, and effect change. Here are a few important considerations for those interested in increasing their internal influence.

  1. Relationships – as I’ve written many times, everything starts with relationships. The one we have with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. Being in a relationship means having easy and difficult conversations. Remembering this truth is important in leadership.
  2. Questions – asking questions is always an important step in creating influence. Often, people shy away from asking the tough questions. Ask them. It is important to your own development, and that of your teams.
  3. Creativity – being open, flexible, and innovative, is an important aspect of influencing the future. Without creativity, the past is the future, a stamped reproduction. Thus, being open to new ideas, those from your peers, and your team is essential.
  4. Integrity – doing what we say we are going to do is important to all aspects of our lives, and there is no exception in creating influence. If we are unable to make it to a meeting, or are going to be late, communicate. Open communication ensures that we are always keeping everyone in the conversation, and keeping our integrity intact.
  5. Authenticity – be who you are. You are just as you are supposed to be, so embrace your unique-self, and let that shine. There is only one you, which means there’s not another person on the planet that can create influence, or anything else for that matter, just like you. When we are authentic, people know, and respect our truth. And, if they don’t? Remember, that’s their issue. Not yours. Be who you are.

Alright, there are five examples, and considerations for you, on how to create influence within a business, organization, or institution. Remember, influence takes time to cultivate. It’s kind of like gardening. You must water your relationships, questions, creativity, integrity, and authenticity, and, when you do, you will see your influence grow.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

External Influence

External influence is similar to internal influence, and yet, also different. You can use the five considerations aforementioned with those clients, students, or customers, that are external to your business, organization, or institution. And?

There are a couple more strategies for you to consider. Here we go.

  1. Engagement – being fully engaged at all times with those you serve is important. Meaning, that it is important to create an engagement system that you can rely upon, which will ensure your engagement is, well, like a drum beat. Your clients, students, or customers need to rely upon your engagement pattern. I write about developing my LinkedIn engagement system in the post, A Blogger’s Diary 12/27/20: On Writing, Goal-Setting, Systems, and the Holidays, which can serve as one of many examples to draw upon.
  2. Consistency – a drum beat, or pattern, on which your clients, students, or customers can rely. Important. There are lots of ways to ensure you stay on track with your engagement. You can calendar your engagements, enter them into a project management software system, or keep them in a planner. The tool matters far less, than the output of making sure to engage regularly and consistently.
  3. Reciprocity – relationships are built upon many things, and reciprocity is one. Being in relationships means sharing yourself with your clients, students, or customers. And doing so in a genuine way. Remember, people know when we are inauthentic. They can see, hear, and feel it. Just be who you are, and reciprocate.
  4. Value – our clients, students, or customers want to know they are valued. They would like value, and to know they are valued. Both. Providing value comes in many forms, and it’s not always, actually rarely, monetary. It’s about being there for your clients, students, or customers. Taking care of them, treating them with kindness, and valuing their needs.
  5. Service – in the end, it’s all about service. All of it. The service we give ourselves, and the service we give out to our clients, students, or customers. When we value our service, we are always looking for, and creating, new ways to serve. Whether that is through a new business model, a new product, or a new service. Really. Ultimately, it’s about understanding the need, reflecting on that need, and creating a bridge for that need.

Internal and external influence matter. It’s not about ego. We are leaving ego at the door. It’s about service. About taking care of people. Finding out what they need, and working with them to fill that need.

When we are in relationship with people, we are in a unique position to serve.

And, as we continue to serve, our influence grows. Influence grows as we grow and deepen our relationships. The relationships we have with those we serve. Ultimately, it’s our peers, teams, clients, students, and customers that let us know about our influence.

When we have movement in our relationships, we can see it and feel it; and, when we have traction, we know, because reciprocity flourishes as we enter into new relationships each day. And, as we enter into more relationships, our service grows; and, yes, we also grow. Fun.

#authenticity, #consistency, #creativity, #development, #developmentalmoment, #engagement, #externalinfluence, #influence, #integrity, #internalinfluence, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #questions, #reciprocity, #relationships, #self-development, #service, #value

Creating Developmental Opportunities for Ourselves and Our Teams

6 Questions All Leaders Should Be Asking Themselves Right Now

Photo by Joshua Hibbert on Unsplash

As I continue to write the, well, second-and-a-half, installment of the Leadership Series: Why Developing The Self is Always The First Step in Leadership, another idea occurred to me. What occurred to me? Good question.

In fact, the idea lives inside of the first few installments of the Leadership Series, yet overviewing it in this article makes sense to me today, so here it is.

As we develop, there are six questions to ask ourselves, which can lead inward toward more awareness about who we are as a human being. And?

Well, as I’ve written about in other articles, the more we understand our own humanity, the more we can understand all humanity. Super helpful from a leadership perspective, and, well, a whole life perspective.

Without further ado, here are those six questions

Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

1. What Do I Think?

Understanding yourself begins with getting a handle on how you think. What are your thoughts about the current reality, the state of your team, and the state of your life; a better question, maybe.

In order to lead teams effectively, we must first inquire into ourselves. When thoughts arise, it’s about letting go of the judgment we have about these thoughts, so we can understand them. When we can understand our thoughts, we are more effectively present to ourselves, and all of those around us.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

2. How Do I Feel?

Emotions come and go. They are here, and then they are gone. However, human beings have a tendency to hold onto emotions, like thoughts, and carry them around throughout the day. This need not be the case.

We can learn to effectively have emotions, feel them, understand them, talk about them even, and then let them go, which is a large part of my own internal work today. And?

Just like our thinking, when we understand our emotions, we are better equipped to understand our own emotional states, and what led us to those states, and ultimately we are better able to understand the emotional states of the people around us. Important.

Photo by Jessica Da Rosa on Unsplash

3. How Do I Speak?

Several months ago I wrote the article, 4 Reasons Why Language is Power. And, it is true that language is very powerful. Therefore it is important to understand how we are speaking and what we are saying. This may sound simple, and, for some of you, this may be the case.

However, human beings have a tendency to use language as a currency without considering the replenishment of that currency, as if it is in a never-ending supply. And, whereas we can continue to create language as we like, we should question the necessity of the language and the communication that follows.

As I’ve written about many times, communication is key, as is the importance of making sure we are clear about our communication. It is far more important to communicate clearly than it is to communicate often.

Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

4. What Do I Hear?

As we get clearer on how we think, feel, and speak, we will begin to hear things that we may not have been previously present to.

For instance, someone on your team, or close to you, may say they feel great and that all is well. Yet, you may hear things in their tone of voice that tells a different story. It first takes being clear on yourself, and then you can begin to pick up on inconsistencies in behavior, speech, and emotion. And, guess what?

It may be your own inconsistency that you pick up on first. Actually, this is very likely. And? It’s not a demerit when this happens. It’s okay.

It does mean that investigating, or inquiring, into the inconsistency between our behavior, speech, and emotion is needed. Understanding why there is ant inconsistency, to begin with. Important.

Photo by Bruno Martins on Un,splash

5. What Do I See?

One of my favorites. As I continue my own development, which includes my own personal inquiry, a life coach, and a super dynamic and inquisitive team, I see so much more. More about my own humanity, and that of the teams. It works that way.

And, when you can see more facets of the human being you are, you are in a position to effect more change. More change for yourself, for your team, and for your organization, institution, or business.

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

6. How Do I Act?

Being in action is so important. And, how we act tells us, and everyone around us, a lot about who we are as a human being. How we act will, in fact, tell people how we see, hear, speak, feel, and think. For, ultimately, it’s the actions we take that say the most about who we are as human beings.

For instance, we can create language about creating and effecting change, however, without action, the language is just language. Action is where concepts in language become reality. Simple.

And, when we are clear on our own actions, we are able to discern differences in how people talk about their work, and actually do their work. An important distinction and discovery.

Alright, that was a brief overview of 6 questions all leaders should be asking themselves right now. And, in fact, these are questions that anyone interested in personal or professional development can ask themselves.

It’s inside the questions we first ask ourselves, and the work we do on ourselves, where we develop as a person and a leader.

And, as we develop, we create the possibility of development for everyone around us.

#development, #howdoyouact, #howdoyoufeel, #howdoyouhear, #howdoyousee, #howdoyouspeak, #howdoyouthink, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #self-development, #self-awareness, #sixquestionsallleadersshouldask, #teamdevelopment

3 Reasons Why Writers Should Know About the Distinction Between Theory and Practice

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Alright, so I’m making my way through some Medium stories, and I get to this one, Meditation Is a Terrible Strategy for Self-Improvement, by the Cut.

As some of you know, I started practicing meditation about three years ago; taught to me by someone that spent 15 years in India. And it has been one of the most important developmental inquiries in my life. So, of course, when I read that title, I was like, wait, what?!

Of course I read it. And?

The writer completely missed the point of meditation. Further, the “expert” the writer draws examples from throughout the article is questionable, at best, as an authority on meditation.

Well, what followed then was an important distinction for writers that came as an insight of reading the article. The distinction? Yep, here we go.

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I’ve written a couple times about the importance of making the distinction and understanding the difference between theory and practice. The distinction between the two is paramount in organizational development and education.

Yet, what I’ve been reflecting upon more this past week is just how important the distinction between theory and practice is for writers. Yep.

As I’ve been writing for years, I think I’ve always understood this distinction, yet it’s really only been the past three years that I’ve really known about it. Did you catch the distinction? Ah, if you did, excellent, if not, never fear.

Before we get into the discussion of theory and practice, let’s define our terms.

theory

noun /ˈθɪəri/ /ˈθiːəri/,  /ˈθɪri/ (plural theories)

[countable, uncountable] a formal set of ideas that is intended to explain why something happens or exists

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

practice

noun /ˈpræktɪs/ /ˈpræktɪs/

[uncountable, countable] doing an activity or training regularly so that you can improve your skill; the time you spend doing this

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

Very good. Now, what do you see? Yep, it’s pretty straight forward.

Theory is about idea generation. About trying to explain something to the best of one’s ability by rationalizing the knowledge one has about a subject through their intellect. Yep, that’s about it. Practice?

Different. Practice is about doing something. It is about understanding a subject through the practice of actually doing that subject; and, then explaining that subject through the practical knowledge now possessed.

Now, both are needed. Yep. We need both intellectual knowledge and practical knowledge. However, theoretical knowledge can never supersede practical knowledge. Why?

Because no matter how much we know about a subject, we can never really know about that subject until we engage in it. Example? Sure.

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Let us say I want to create a new budget. One that will connect all of my daily spending to my bank accounts, which will then funnel back to a spreadsheet that I can track daily.

I can theorize about how a new budget system like this might work by reading about it, however, I will never really know if it will work for me until I try it. Simple, right? Yep.

Why, then, is this important to writers? Because when we write, and we are writing about something that we are theorizing about, we should own it.

We should let the reader know that the piece they are reading is a theoretical exploration, not a practical one. Why?

Alright, here are

3 Reasons Why Writers Should Know About the Distinction Between Theory and Practice

1. Transparent

Being transparent about the subject matter we write about is important. It’s important to our own development, as writers, yes, and as human beings; and, it’s also important to the reader.

When we write about a topic that we know intellectually, that’s fine, write about it that way. Letting the reader know that you are conducting a theoretical exploration is just fine, and needed.

Have you ever heard the phrase theory informs practice, and practice informs theory? It’s true.

When we theorize about how something might work, we will only ever really know if that theory will hold true by conducting an experiment, yes, or by simply doing it. Yep.

And, when we do something, like create the budget from the aforementioned example, we will learn things we did not, could not, theorize about; and, we can then recreate the theory in light of this new information. Finished? Nope, not quite. Why?

Because someone else might conduct the same experiment with the budget system, let’s say, and get a completely different outcome, or experience. Yep.

I once had an instructor that would say, show me any theory, and I can show you a mitigating variable for that theory. Meaning another idea that would change the outcome of the experiment, or experience.

Therefore, it is very important when writing to elaborate on the knowledge that we currently have, both intellectually and practically. It helps readers know where the limits of our knowledge is, and where they can pick up from, if they choose, and move that knowledge forward.

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2. Thoughtful

In owning the limitations of our own knowledge, whether it is intellectual or practical, we are being thoughtful. I love reading an article or a book about a topic where the author has been intentional in communicating the limits of their knowledge.

As a reader, this kind of commitment from a writer garners a whole different level of trust from me. And, I am more likely to read more of their work.

Being thoughtful about our own limitations is an important thing to do; though, it will probably feel awkward and scary. Human beings don’t usually like to own their own limitations.

Yet, I would argue that owning our limitations is not, in and of itself a limitation. Rather, owning our limitations is a starting point, a strength.

A place from where we can grow and develop. Learn more, both intellectually and practically.

And, in that growth, guess what? We learn more, which means we can do more, and be more. We can write more. More about what we know about. Both intellectually and practically. Fun.

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3. Truth

Of course. When we stand in our truth, we get back way more. Though owning a limitation feels scary, it is the only way we can ever grow and develop. If you have no limitations, or rather, areas to grow yourself, then there is nothing to ever read, or really do.

Life inside of that world, where we know all there is to know, is finite. That world is the limited one.

However, when we are truthful about our own developmental opportunities, we immediately become unlimited. Why?

Because we have now taken a stand to learn more, to develop more, and to possibly transform the person we are today into a whole new iteration. A new self that stands in the reality, or truth, about themselves. That is powerful. A paradox?

Yes, and no. The whole world is full of paradoxes like this one.

We are fearful of the exact thing that, when embraced, is the key to relinquishing that exact fear. That is life as a human being on this planet.

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Alright, so there are 3 Reasons Why Writers Should Know About the Distinction Between Theory and Practice. And, to be clear, this distinction is important for every human being. Really.

It is important in all aspects of our lives. When we are clear on the areas we want to develop and grow, we can engage with people in meaningful conversations and create contexts to move those aspects of ourselves forward.

We can learn more, become more, and then, yep, do more.

It has occured to me in writing this post that I can do a better job of letting readers know about the limits of my intellectual and practical knowledge.

Though the focus of my writing is, and will continue to be, on both my intellectual and practical knowledge, writing this post has brought a new awareness of this topic to the fore of my consciousness; and, for that I am grateful.

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