How We Learn, and Why it’s Important to Understand

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Why is it important to understand how we learn best? It has to do with our own ability to relate with ourselves, first, and to others, second. Do you know how you learn best? Not sure? That’s pretty normal.

Though deep down you know, as I once did, most people don’t actively think about it. And, neither did I. It was not until I went back to school in my early 30’s that I fully understood how I learned best.

Alright, let’s take a look at the top 4 learning styles, and see what style resonates with you most. I also invite you to think about how else you can use these learning styles in your life. Ready? Good, here we go.

Learning Styles

Visual

Visual learners like to see what they are learning. These learners are interested in the visualization of the work they are engaged with. Think whiteboards, flow charts, and large post-it boards.

They must see the work in order to fully take the information in, process it, and provide a meaningful response. Some people don’t know they are visual learners. If you are not sure, I suggest writing out your next project on one of the aforementioned tools, and see what happens.

As I am visual, I can provide an example here.

I don’t expect this visual to make sense, and in fact, it may shock or startle some of you. What you are looking at is how someone that is hyper-visual thinks.

The importance of getting those ideas out of one’s mind and into reality, via any tool really, is extremely important to someone that is a visual learner. Without the ability to do so, the person may get stuck. I know, I’ve been there.

Aural

Someone that learns best through sound is in the aural category. Think about someone that chooses to listen to audio books, or someone that must have someone explain a particular task or project to them through verbalizing the steps. Our youngest son is an aural learner.

For those that learn best this way, having tasks or projects written out or in visual format, as in the above whiteboard example, will not work. Or, rather, visual and written instruction will not work as effectively. Sound is the key.

Here is an example.

Jeff Flesch on YouTube

This is a video I created for the blog, 3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy, and I am using it as an example of aural learning, as I am talking through a strategy in this clip. Helpful. What would not work for an aural learner, would be the written out steps to the associated diagram without the spoken explanation.

Verbal

Verbal learners need to read that which they are to work on or engage with. Being able to read instructions, for example, is imperative for a verbal learner. Think about putting something together, not with a picture in mind, but with a list of steps, 1, 2, 3.

Being able to internalize the written instruction or steps, is important for a verbal learner. What would help the above video clip for a verbal learner? Yep, that’s it. If I were to write out a list of the steps that I am talking the viewer through. That would be helpful. Think of an ordered system. More comfortable for a verbal learner.

Kinesthetic

Those that learn best with their bodies are kinesthetic. These learners like to actually do something with what they are learning. They need to actually touch, feel, and practice the new information.

Though the below picture is not the best quality, it gives you an idea of a practical tool that was created intentionally to engage those that learn best by doing something with new information.

Alright, so can the learning styles be combined? Do some people learn best with a combination of the aforementioned learning styles? And, can people’s learning styles change over time?

Do some people learn best when learning styles are combined?

Yes. I am a great example of this fact. I learn best, by seeing, reading, and then hearing information. I also like to practice new information by either utilizing a worksheet, or more likely a whiteboard. I love whiteboards. I have a whiteboard wall in my work office. Excellent.

Yet, this is only how learning works best for me. I know people that need to have information explained first. A must. Then they can interact with visuals, and other types of learning styles. Why is knowing this important?

When we know how the people we are in relationship with learn best, we can support them in their learning and life. Important. And, when we assume we know, and offer support, that support, while well-intentioned, may not work.

It’s also important to know, as we have discussed, that some people may not know how they learn best. Asking them, in these instances, may not help. What can you do? You can offer them different approaches to learning, and see what fits them best.

Do learning styles change over time?

Yes. Here are a couple of reasons why learning styles change.

  • Because as we develop we learn new ways to process and operationalize information. We may add new learning styles to our approach to learning, and may even need to let go of approaches that no longer work.
  • Different contexts require different learning approaches, so in these contexts, you may need to adapt your learning style while incorporating new tools. Think of a new job, going to college, or graduate school.
  • You may learn, in school or at work, about a new way to learn that was previously not available to you. And, in this new learning, you may adopt a new learning style that fits you better.

Why is it important to understand how we learn?

It’s important to our own development. When we know how we learn best, we can employ strategies at home and at work that align with our learning style, which can help our retention of information and mastery of all that we do.

As I’ve mentioned in this post, I am a hyper-visual learner, therefore it will probably not surprise you to know that I have not one, nor two, but, rather, three whiteboards in my little apartment. Yep, three. Needed.

It is also important to understand how other people learn best. When we understand how our friends, family, and coworkers learn best, we can support them by advocating for, and providing learning contexts that adhere to their learning style.

We all learn differently, yet the learning process is very similar regardless of the style that fits best.

And, why did I write this post? Good Question.

Because it occurred to me that it is also important to someone that is engaging others through digital media – you, me, and many, many other people.

Whether that is via a website, social media, a blog, or some other medium. Understanding how people learn is a critical component of engagement.

In order to create the most engaging context, as many learning styles as possible should be considered, addressed, and included when possible. As I continue to develop the COVID-19 Creativity website, I will employ more strategies that include each learning style to ensure that everyone has a quality experience.

Alright, we’ve addressed the top learning styles, walked through their significance, and connection to self-development, relationship-development, and the importance of using these styles to create more engaging contexts.

Now I’m interested to learn how you’ve used learning styles in your personal and/or professional life to create more engaging contexts. What have you done; and how did it work for you, and your audience?

#aural, #engagement, #individual-learning, #kinesthetic, #learning, #learning-and-engagement, #learning-styles, #relationship-development, #self-development, #verbal, #visual

Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 2: Standing for Each Other and our Shared Humanity

Photo by Joshua Coleman on Unsplash

In the post, Creating and Maintaining Relationships: What else is there?, we discussed how connected we all are; and, how the relationships in our lives are not just with those that are the closest to us. Rather, that every person we interact with on a daily basis, we, in fact, depend upon more that we realize. These relationships are also very important in our lives.

The importance we place on our relationships and how we think about them, is a product of our social environment. How we are raised to value relationships, all of them, will drive our thinking, and then our corresponding behaviour in our relationships.

If we think that relationships are inconsequential, we will live a life where we believe that we are acting alone, and others are merely watching. Not interdependent then. Conversely, if we believe that relationships are the basis for everything that we do, we will value the interdependence of the relationships in our lives, and will behave accordingly.

Valuable relationships are also transformational, and they create change. The people in these relationships do not simply recreate the same context, thus relationship, every day. They create new contexts each day, and new possibilities for the relationship, and for the individuals in these relationships.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Transformational relationships are also disruptive. They are disruptive because the people in these relationships stand for each other. When one human being stands for another, they are, in effect, saying that they are committed to that person living the best life possible.

Living the best life possible, however, does not mean the easiest life possible. Disruptive relationships are amazing, and they are also difficult. They are difficult because change is difficult. Yet, it is inside of the change we all face, whether that change is self-induced or otherwise, that transformation takes place.

When people are committed to transforming themselves, and then those they are in relationships with, they are also interested in transforming society. As we discussed in the previous post, relationships start with the relationship we have with ourselves, and they go out from there; to our friends, family, work teams, organizations, and community.

When you are interested in, and actively work at transforming yourself and your relationships, you are also actively contributing to change and transformation within the greater community, and also the world. Do not think for a moment that the actions you take with yourself, and in your relationships cannot create larger scale change – they can and do. It starts with you; one action at a time, one relationship at a time.

As I reflect upon the very sad, disappointing, and unacceptable incident that happened in Minneapolis last week, it reminds me that taking a stand for a fellow human being is one of the most important, and vulnerable actions a human can take.

When we take a stand, we are out at the edge of what is known. We don’t know what we will get back. We do know, however, that by taking a stand we are committing ourselves to something much greater than ourselves. We are taking a stand for humanity – our shared humanity. For each other, and everyone else on this planet.

As you proceed in your week, honor the actions you’ve taken to create transformation within yourself. And, as an invitation, if you’ve not taken a stand for a fellow human being this week, whether that be with someone close to you or someone you don’t know as well, take a stand for them. For when we stand for and with our fellow human beings, we are standing for ourselves, and everyone else on this planet; and, we are creating transformation, within, and without.

#creating-change, #relationships, #self-development, #societal-change, #transformation, #transformational-relationships

The Stories We Are Told and The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Becoming Limitless

Photo by Jack Cohen on Unsplash

Have you ever thought about why people are so attracted to stories. Movies, television, books, plays, insert here whatever you like that has to do with telling stories. Any ideas?

Don’t know about you, but I’ve always been fascinated with stories. Though I didn’t grow up reading much, I did grow up during a time when television was in a transformational phase. The advent of cable was just underway in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and what a difference that was for how we consumed our stories. I mean, HBO and MTV? Wow.

As I’ve written in other posts, we are attracted to stories and create our own stories because this is how we make sense of the world. From a very young age we are told the story of who we are, and, in many cases, who we will be. As we grow up we learn from our environment, and weave our learning into the story of who we are, and who we believe we want to, or will, be.

The issue with this is that the person that we want to be, or that we believe we will be, is predicated on the stories told to us when we were very young. The information we drew upon was given to us. Yes, we added to it, however, we only did so, in a manner that fit a particular framework. We were doing exactly as we were taught to do. And, this is a limited framework.

The framework is limited, because if something in our environment does not align with the person we believe ourselves to be, we will ignore it. And, we will often do so unconsciously. We will simply not pay attention to it.

Think about the stories you tell yourself about who you are. Are they stories that you created, or, rather, are they stories that were handed to you. And, are these stories expanding the human being that you are, or are they keeping you living within a framework, or frame of reference, that someone else created?

I know for myself, understanding the stories that drive my behavior has been extremely liberating. Once you can see them, you can start to investigate why you believe the way you do. Until you can see them, and are conscious of them, you are simply living through these stories without really knowing any difference. Most of my adult life was lived this way.

Within the stories that we tell ourselves, there are some that fit the particular context that we grew up in; and, some that are generalizable. They are told to, and then by, many people, and have been told the same way for generations. Can you think of any?

Here are just a few for your consideration.

  • I am not good enough.
  • I can’t do that, it’s not reasonable.
  • There’s not enough time in the day.
  • I’m tired.
  • I don’t care.
  • I’m not qualified, or talented enough.
  • I don’t have the time.
  • It’s not possible.

These might not seem like stories to you, yet add them onto a familiar situation, and you’ll see the story that’s been created for you, and reinforced by you. These stories are limitations on the human being within you, which is searching for liberation.

Here are two quotes about limits that I quite like.

“The only limits that exist are the ones in your own mind.” -Anonymous

“All limits are self-imposed.” -Icarus

However these stories may resonate with you, they are all reconfigurable to create limitlessness. Where do you want to go, what do you want to do? And, who do you want to be?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alberto-frias-olw0cp3vjv4-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Alberto Frías on Unsplash

You are the writer of your story, and only you can change the frame in which you think and see yourself. You can rewrite any story that has been handed to you, and any story that you’ve added to, or created that creates limits. You can create a new story, one that has no limits, that sets you on a course for a new journey, and a new destination. How?

It takes looking at the stories that are holding you back, and limiting your potential, and the person that you are meant to be.

Here are a couple considerations on how to get started.

  • Write out all the stories that you have about yourself that cause you to limit your behavior.
  • Once you have those written out, question whether these stories are truly who you want to be.
  • If not, then rewrite that story. Write it from a place that does not limit the person you want to become. We are all always becoming. Start becoming the person you want to be.
  • Once rewritten, pick one that you want to take action on, and create an action or two you can take next week to start making this new story a reality.

Let me give you an example.

  • Limited Story – I can’t write a book, because I don’t know how, and I’ve never done such a thing before. Furthermore, I don’t have the time, too busy.
  • Question – Nope, not who I want to be.
  • Limitless Story – I can write a book, because I can learn how, and I’ve written things before. Though I am busy, I can make time.
  • Action – I will write two pages a week.

That is just one example, and a rather simple one. Yet, it does display a very simple method of taking something you believe about yourself, and rewriting the frame into one that is limitless and actionable. And, you can use this simple method with any limited story.

It takes looking at the stories that are limiting you, and making a conscious choice to do something about them. To rewrite them, and in doing so, to recreate yourself into the limitless human being that you already are.

#becoming-limitless, #changing-behavior, #human-behavior, #recreating-yourself, #rewriting-your-story, #self-development, #stories, #writing-your-story

Living a Transformational Life: Authenticity and Vulnerability

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

This week I’ve been reflecting upon authenticity and vulnerability and their relationship with transformation. Though I’ve been reflecting upon authenticity, vulnerability, and transformation in regard to the team I work with, it is impossible to consider these concepts without considering the individual. They are completely interconnected. You cannot have one without the other. They reinforce each other.

I spent many years thinking I was authentic and vulnerable, however, that authenticity and vulnerability were always lived out within a limited framework. When things got too scary, I would withdraw, or hide. Know that many people live this way, some are aware, some are not. I was not aware for a long time.

Being authentic means living in all of your contexts the same way. Where you show up the same no matter what you are doing. Many people have performances for work, for home, for friends, etc. Just like I did. However, to live a completely authentic life, you perform the same way in every context. You are the you that you know yourself to be everywhere and with everyone.

Of course, being authentic in this way, can be uncomfortable for you, and for those around you. Especially if the people around you have a particular view of you that they are attached to, and you are not showing up as they expect you to. However, when you are living an authentic life, and are being true to yourself, you are beginning to live a life without limits.

Limitations are superimposed by ourselves on ourselves when we are trying to live up to a standard that someone else has set for us, whether that be parents, caretakers, partners, or peers. When you remove these limits, by living authentically, you create new possibilities for your life. And, you also create new possibilities for those around you.

Know that those around you may not always want to partake in these new possibilities, especially if they are living in the past, waiting for you to show up in the performance of you that they expect of you. However, that is their expectation, and need not be yours. You can live an authentic life. It is not easy, yet it is there to be lived, and it is transformational.

Living a transformational life, opens you up to a whole new possibility. The possibility of stepping out into the world knowing that there is far more to learn than you could ever know. More, it is actively seeking contexts where you can experience the many things you don’t know. Especially when that learning makes you uncomfortable, which, for me, is the height of being vulnerable.

When we are vulnerable we provide ourselves the opportunity to learn as much as we can while we are living on this planet. And, we also create the possibility that those closest to us also get to live a life full of that same possibility. A life without limitations.

Again, those closest to us may not want to live a life without limitations. For a life without limitations can also be difficult. When you are open to all new things, new ideas, new ways of being and doing, you develop and iterate as an individual. And, when you are around people that do not develop with you, you can find it harder to be compatible with those people, and they you. Difficult.

Yet, this difficulty, is also transformational. It is transformational because through these difficulties you will learn a lot about who you are, and who other people are. I am grateful for those people in my life that actively resist the person I am today. They help me understand more about myself, more about them, and more about humanity in general.

You will also have those people in your life that want to develop with you. Also a transformational experience. Getting to see people develop around you is one of the most exceptional experiences I’ve ever had. It is inspiring, and insightful.

And, when you are around people that are interested in your development, actively participate in it, and develop themselves alongside you, you also get to develop together. Reciprocal development like this, breeds transformation.

Living an authentic and vulnerable life can be difficult, however, the experience you get out of living this kind of life is more than worth while. In fact, I would say that the difficulty, uncomfortability, pain, and uneasiness in venturing into the unknown is really what living life is all about.

For, it is in the experiences we have where our heart rate increases, and sweat beads on our brow, where we know we are truly living. Living an authentic, vulnerable, and transformational life. And, that life awaits you. You just have to take that first step.

#authentic-life, #authenticity, #development, #inspiration, #self-development, #transformation, #transformational-life, #vulnerability

You Are Not Your Fear

Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

I used to believe that I was my emotions. Confusion. I did not know then, like I am beginning to understand now, that emotions simply happen. They, like thoughts, are a product of the very human stimulus response system.

When something happens in our context, we have a thought about that happening, and that thought will usher in an emotion. That emotion will be a product of the thought pattern, simple.

However simple that seams, people do not always find it simple to understand how their emotions work. Why is this so? Most people are not taught how to understand their emotions. Why? Because their parents or caretakers did not know how to understand their emotions either. A cycle.

And, the cycle is created again each generation. A large part of why the cycle continues, is that people are afraid of their emotions. Then you have, people that are not taught how to understand their emotions, while also living in fear of their emotions. A very difficult combination. I know, I lived in it most of my adult life.

However, what I have come to realize is that we are not our emotions. We are not, then our fear. We have emotions, we have fear, yet we are not those emotions, or that fear.

In order to understand our emotions, as I’ve written in other posts, we have to look at your feelings, and begin to question why we feel the way we do. Not a simple task. In fact, it can be quite painful. However, on the other side of this pain is release.

A release from the suffering, which may manifest itself as resentment, grief, sadness, anger, frustration, or any other feeling, you’ve been holding onto. Looking into these emotions and their associated feelings is a discovery process, which can enlighten us to new ways to understand our own humanity.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I’ve been looking into my emotions for a couple of years now. In this time, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing to fear about our emotions, and those feelings, which often don’t feel so great. When we take the time needed to understand why we feel as we do, we can begin to heal.

Heal from whatever suffering we’ve been holding onto. And, in our healing we create the possibility that those around us can also heal. How is this so? Because as we begin to understand our feelings, we learn about ourselves. And, in our learning, we create a deeper understanding of other people’s suffering.

When we understand other people’s suffering, because we understand our own, we can stand with them. We can give ourselves compassion, and then give compassion to others as well. Realizations like this, and the associated practical work needed to create this realization, also creates a deeper understanding of the human experience, of which having emotions is a part.

I used to think that the human experience was about “being happy,” or finding my purpose. I’ve since come to realize that happiness, and purpose, like our emotions, live within us. Because they live within us, it is our responsibility to understand how they function. Both pain and happiness, and fear.

However, I’ve also come to realize that though we have fear, like anger or frustration, or any other emotion, we are not our emotions. However, when we hold onto an emotion, like fear, what happens? We get more of it, which is why people become confused, as I once did about anger, believing that they are that emotion. No so.

We are no more our emotions, than we are our thoughts. Emotions happen. They are a reaction to our environment, a response. When we understand this as true on an intellectual level, it is helpful. And, when we understand it on a visceral level, it is freedom.

Freedom from the cage we’ve constructed for ourselves. Cages made of fear, anger, frustration, etc. You are not your emotions, and you are not your thoughts. Therefore, dear reader, you are not your fear. You just are. I take great peace in this knowing, and hope that you might too.

#emotions, #fear, #feelings, #healing, #pain, #self-development, #suffering

On Love and Loss: Healing and Transformative Pain

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

As I’ve written about in other posts, my father died last July. Up until that time, the only other real death I had been exposed to was that of my grandparents. Not the same thing, when you have a parent pass away.

The pain that came with my father’s passing was excruciating. Yet, it was necessary and needed for me to feel that pain. I’ve spent the better part of my life running from my emotions. Covering them up with drinking, eating, anything really, to keep the pain at bay. Totally unaware and disengaged.

I read a blog post recently about the benefits of crying by Maja on Lampelina, and it reminded me of the necessity and need to be aware of our emotions, and to feel them, and to release them.

When I was unaware of, and disengaged from my emotions, expect for the ones that I was able to feel and release, such as anger and frustration, I had tons of pent up shame, sadness, and grief. Still do. I am now doing these emotions, which means I cry often.

I know when there is a need within me to cry, because the familiar emotions of anger and frustration will surface, which is the first sign that I am holding onto, not paying attention to, and avoiding my true feelings.

Many people live their whole lives this way. One of the issues with this, outside of the negative health ramifications, is that when we avoid difficult emotions, like shame, sadness, and grief, it keeps us from truly living.

We cannot lead a rich and full life without an awareness of our emotional selves. Further, we must regularly work at, or practice our emotions, and be in touch with them, no matter how painful they are. Actually, the more painful the emotions, the more the need to be in touch with them.

Though I have experienced love throughout my life, it is only now that I can fully experience love in a way that is almost painful. It is cliche to write, you must know love to know loss, and you must know loss to know love. However, it is true. More true than I ever really knew.

Today, on this Memorial Day, I’m thinking about my father quite a bit, reflecting upon the pain that he had and held, which went unprocessed. It fills me with great sadness. Yet, I know it happened as it was supposed to. And, I know that one of his legacies is having a son that is in touch with his emotions today, more than ever before.

That I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and get in touch with my emotions means that I can stand for his grandsons, and help them understand, when they are ready, their emotional selves. This is the essence, for me, of love and loss, and the pain that can come in both.

I have never before known pain that functions this way. Pain that is both healing and transformative. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding pain, and that was my confusion. Because it is through pain that we can receive the greatest gifts of understanding.

We can better understand ourselves, and all of those around us. Today, love and loss, and the pain that comes through both, are more alike to me today than ever before. Though I once avoided my pain, I now welcome it, as I know that the pain I feel through love and loss are needed to live the fullest life possible.

#death, #healing-and-transformation, #life, #life-lessons, #love-and-loss, #pain, #self-development

Inspiration, Imagination, and Innovation: Unlocking Your Creative Potential

Photo by John Tyson

I used to believe that inspiration, imagination, and innovation were all concepts that you needed to find. Similar to my post on motivation, I believed these concepts lived outside of me. As if, I could find them somewhere in the world.

And, it is true, we can see something that inspires us to imagine and innovate, however, what we see has very little to do with what we are actually seeing, it is, rather, the filter through which we see that matters.

What we see, and how we see, are products of how we think. If we believe the world is full of inspiration, we will find and see inspiration. If we believe the world is uninspired, then know matter how hard we try, we will not see inspiration.

Obviously, if we find and see inspiration, we will be inspired. And, conversely, if we do not find and see inspiration, we will be uninspired. If this is true, then, we can never really find anything outside of ourselves. What we see is a mirror of how we think. It all starts with us.

Finding inspiration is a process of looking inward. And, looking inward is the only real place you can find anything. It is the process of developing oneself, and creating inspiration that gives birth to imagination and innovation.

Funnily enough, when you find your inspiration, and you begin to imagine, dream, and innovate, these actions double back on themselves. Meaning that once you find inspiration within, your creative capacity is unleashed, and the imagination and innovation that comes forth breads more inspiration. A full circle, if you will.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana

At this point, you may ask, how, then, does one find their inspiration? Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how to find your inspiration, yet can tell you how I found mine, which may serve as a catalyst for your own search.

Finding My Inspiration

Finding my inspiration began with a personal quest to understand my own suffering. It started about three years ago when I took a job that, at the time, I was not fully prepared nor developed enough for.

Every morning I would awake to the “I can’t do this” mantra, and after 6 months of this kind of thinking, and a great deal of less sleep than is optimal, I began to question my thinking. At that time, questioning my thinking simply meant that when I had the thought, I can’t do this, or this isn’t working, I would question whether or not that was actually true.

Questioning my thinking, and remembering that the context I was working in was but one aspect of my being, not my whole being, began to shift my thinking. Additionally, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I began to start seeing a life coach once a week, and did two powerful leadership development programs.

The ability to question my thinking, even then at a very minimal level, seeing someone once a week, and developing myself, created a space for me to start creating new thinking patterns.

Photo by Ashley Batz

During that first year, I also worked on my diet, and began, what I called then, breathing. This breathing was my first foray into meditation, which I continue to practice today.

All of these choices helped me be more open, flexible, adaptable, and resilient. These choices also gave me more clarity, which, when working on a dynamic team, in an ever changing and fast paced environment is very important.

Being more open, flexible, adaptable, and resilient, allowed me to take, and give, feedback in a more constructive and healthy way. And, letting go of the notion that I should know the answers to every issue that would arise, opened me up to learn more about myself, and to learn more from all of the people around me.

When you begin to truly understand yourself, and begin to take in all that people have to offer, you find that inspiration is everywhere, and in all things. Again, it is the inspiration you find within yourself, that then translates into “finding” inspiration in all things.

Finding inspiration is a matter of how you think about who you are, what you do, and how you relate to everything in your environment. If you believe that you matter, that your relationships to those in your environment matter, and that ultimately your impact matters, you are doing inspiration. You will also find that inspiration goes out from you and affects others. We can call this reciprocal inspiration. It is infectious, and wonderful.

Unlocking your Creative Potential

When you are inspired, your imagination will become more active, which will, if you are open to it, translate into more innovation or creativity. It is also important to understand that this renewed, or new, creativity comes with a requirement to continually be open to all new experiences, even if they feel uncomfortable. Meaning, that it is in the unknown where the most creative and innovative works can be realized.

There is so much freedom that comes from this kind of thinking. Freedom from the constraints and limits that humans typically put on themselves, which, of course, constrict inspiration, and the corresponding imagination and innovation.

When you are ready to live a life full of inspiration, you can take the necessary steps to live that life. Living this kind of life does not come without difficulty, yet it is inside those things that are difficult that personal growth, and transformation can take place.

You can only realize your fullest potential by going outside of your comfort zone, finding your own inspiration, and then letting that inspiration fire your creative potential. You are a creative being. We all are. You simply have to be open to being all that you know, deep down, you are capable of being, and trusting that inner knowing.

Inspiration, imagination, and innovation, live within each of us. These qualities are everyone’s, not just a select few. They are, after all, human qualities, and you are a human, so you have them, and only you can unlock them and realize them for yourself.

#creative-potential, #creativity, #imagination, #innovation, #inspiration, #life, #self-development

Handwritten Letters and Life Skills: Keeping Simplicity Alive for Future Generations

Photo by Green Chameleon

Since the COVID-19 health crisis began, and the associated shelter-in-place order was established here locally, I’ve been receiving handwritten letters from my niece and nephew.

When my sister told me that the twins were tasked with creating and sending out handwritten letters, I thought, oh joy! What a great way for two 10 year olds to spend parts of their day. With all the current technological distractions, these letters seemed like such a great idea, a break for them, and ultimately, a gift for me.

At the time, what I didn’t consider was how much I would enjoy receiving and reading them. Nor could I have imagined how much fun it would turn out to be to write them back.

I am old enough to have lived during a time when in-home computers were just gaining traction. At that time, handwritten (or typed) letters, like landline phones, were a part of people’s everyday experience. Not the case today.

It got me thinking about life skills, and how important it is for children and youth to have the opportunity to develop skills, even when, maybe especially when, these skills are not as sought after today. It is important for many reasons, one of which is the necessity to keep these skills alive for future generations. Why?

Because there is an elegance to the written word, like there is in understanding how to balance a checkbook, or creating a meal that doesn’t include “food” from a box. And, it is our job to teach children and youth these skills.

There are a myriad of these life skills that, due to technological advancements, are not as utilized today. In fact, some are out right not taught in schools, or in homes across the country. Why?

Some of the lack of education in life skills has to do with the way K-12 education functions today. Some of it has to do with the fact that people are busy, and don’t always spend the time necessary with their children teaching them these skills, especially as they enter their teenage years. Or, they think they’ll pick them up along the way.

As a parent, I have also fallen into the trap of being busy and assuming that the kids would pick up this or that skill along the way. Yet, what I have learned is that they will not always pick them up. We must teach them these skills.

Though the life skills referred to in this post are quite simple, we make them seem complex, as today there is an easier way to get to the outcome, or result. For instance, it is much easier to look up a word on an online thesaurus, or dictionary website, than it is to use an actual thesaurus or dictionary. Do we assume then that children and youth will simply know how to find, let alone utilize a thesaurus and or dictionary? We should assume not.

We often make the simple complex. It is a pattern most humans have, and one that I’ve referenced in several other posts. It is often harder to find the simpler path, yet strive for it we should. Because we can make something complex, does not mean it should be complex. In fact, it really means that it should be simple.

If making things simpler is something we should strive for, then teaching children and youth basic life skills, which are not as in fashion today should be a goal of every parent and or caretaker. Why?

Because if we don’t teach them these skills, who else will?

#generations, #life-skills, #psychology, #self-development, #simplicity, #sociology, #youth-development

Persistence Without Resistance: Getting Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Photo by Alex Wong

What is the difference between conceptual thinking and execution? And, what lives inbetween the two? Let’s take a look.

A concept is considered an idea, intention, or plan to do something. Though conceptual thinking is needed and necessary, without the execution behind the idea, intention, or plan to do that something, nothing real will exist in the world.

I often think that people do very well at the thinking part of leading a concept or idea into a planning phase, yet often times during the planning and the following execution phases of a project, traction falters, and the project either stalls, or drops completely. Why is this?

I believe it has to do with the myriad of stimuli we find ourselves dealing with every day, combined with the habit of continually firefighting in whatever business we find ourselves in.

Two years ago I went to an all day strategic thinking training, which included people from all spectrums of work, from line workers, and administrative and operations personnel to company presidents. And, what did all of these people, including myself, have in common? Every one of us was spending more time working in the business rather than working on the business.

When you spend more time working in the business, you are reacting, and firefighting, which, in effect, keeps you on track to reproduce the same outputs and outcomes that you’ve already been producing. You are effectively treading water. If you feel this way about your work right now, you are not alone.

I learned a lot from that strategic thinking training, and one of the most important takeaways was that I was not alone. We are all trying to work on our businesses, or our marriages, or our relationships, yet we continually, without being aware of it, reproduce the same results every day, which keep us stuck in the same place we were yesterday.

To become unstuck, you must not only think, or conceptualize a different future, you must then actively create it. One step, or action, at a time. Otherwise you will continue to get the same results as you’ve always gotten. And, what did Einstein say about that: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

We cannot attain different results without “getting out of our lane.” We must remove the blinders that keep us in the same lane, and venture out into unknown territory. Uncomfortable, yes. Yet, these are where the jewels of life reside. The rare and wondrous moments of growth, are when we stop reproducing the same thing we had yesterday, with the same result, and take a different action, or set of actions, giving us different results.

Conceptual thinking and execution are both needed. When you have both, you have the ability to create new future realities. And, inside these new realities, you have the opportunity to live life in new ways. Ways that were previously unknown and unavailable to you. Regardless of the context.

How do you do this? First, you must be prepared to be uncomfortable, as the journey to creating new realities through new conceptualizations and corresponding new executable actions will be new territory for you. Because humans feel most comfortable inside their already created patterns or habits, living outside of them is uncomfortable.

If you are prepared for such discomfort, the process is not altogether difficult, and must also include an openness to all that is happening, and all those around you. Meaning that things will happen that get in the way of the actualization of your created concept, or you may forget about it at times.

The most important thing to remember is that becauses things happen that get in the way does not mean that you cannot still attain that goal. Building a new habit around a new goal is difficult, yet people do it all the time.

Persistence without resistance is key. Meaning that when things get in the way, know that these things are there for a reason, and that it is okay. Don’t resist what is happening, and continue to persist.

For instance, I’ve wanted to learn another language for a long time. And, have created the opportunity to do so, yet for the past two weeks, I’ve not studied very much Now, I could get frustrated, effectively resisting reality, and give up. Or, I could accept reality as it is, reserving all of that time and energy spent on being frustrated, and put that time and energy into studying.

In order for anything to exist in the world, there must be both concepts and actions that execute on those concepts. And, to do both requires an understanding of how most human beings typically operate, which is inside of their comfort zones. A comfort zone that will produce results that are similar to the results they’ve produced in the past. And, there is nothing wrong with that.

However, if you are looking to produce extraordinary results, you need to be prepared to conceptualize and execute outside of your comfort zone. In that territory that is unknown to you, until it is known. And to know, that once that territory is known, it will be time to create something outside of your now larger comfort zone. This is the process of growth, and you are never too young or too old to grow.

#business, #comfort-zone, #creativity, #extraordinary-results, #growth, #life, #persistence, #psychology, #self-development

The Need for More Grace and Humility Now and in the Future

This week, I’ve been reflecting upon grace and humility. I am thinking about grace as in goodwill towards others, and humility as in being humble. I do believe that the need for grace and humility are now more important than ever. And yet, I find myself also thinking that larger doses of both grace and humility would be beneficial for society regardless.

We live in a fast-paced society, where the expectation to do more is always present. And the expectation to do more, has a corresponding quality, which is to want more, and or feel we need more.

All three of which, the expectation to do more, want more, and need more, often superseded qualities like grace and humility. For instance, in the hunt for that next promotion, or raise, we might inadvertently run right over a fellow human being, such as a colleague or a peer.

I am in no way suggesting that developing, or creating, the determination necessary to excel in one’s work in order to gain a promotion or pay increase is in some way an issue. It is not. It is, rather, the way we handle ourselves on the way, the journey, to that result that can be an issue.

I’ve written in other posts that humans often get caught up in focusing too much, or even solely, on a result. And, when that result is all we can “see” the tendency to be less present to others in our environment goes up; and, when we are less present to those around us, we are also less present to how we treat them.

Right now, you may be thinking, are they saying that competition is in some way bad? No. Competition is needed and necessary. We are, however, talking about how we compete. We are talking about competing while displaying both grace and humility.

I was telling part of the team I work with today that one of the insights I’ve received from the COVID-19 health crisis is that slowing down is not only necessary, it is needed. Slowing down to take in all that is around us, including those we are in competition with.

As states around the country start to create action plans on reopening, businesses will likewise create their plans on how they are going to reopen. Additionally, these business owners, especially small ones, will consider what other services and or products they should invest in to increase their relevance in a very unknown and unpredictable market.

These business owners will also research their competition to better understand how the particular niche they are creating will fill a need and also be profitable.

As business owners consider their options, I am suggesting that showing each other grace and humility will be an advantageous tool. Grace and humility will ultimately be advantageous as fear of the unknown will continue to be present for everyone.

Sharing with each other, then, the grace and humility that comes with an understanding that we have all been affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, positions us all to benefit from each other’s unique perspective and knowledge base.

For sure, some have been more affected by the COVID-19 health crisis than others. Yet all of us have been affected, and will continue to be affected by COVID-19 long after the headlines dwindle to the background, and a sense of “normalcy” begins to return.

At the outset of this post, I stated that grace and humility are qualities that are needed now more than ever, and that overall society could use additional doses of both grace and humility regardless. Grace and humility were needed pre-COVID-19, are needed now during COVID-19, and will also be needed post-COVID-19.

Extending grace and humility to your fellow human being can create a context where competition can thrive in an environment that values each of us as the unique contributors to society that we are.

My invitation to you is to remember that when things are busier than ever, whether that be now, or in the months to come, to slow down, take in all that is around you, and extend grace and humility to your fellow human beings.

#business, #competition, #covid-19, #grace, #humility, #psychology, #self-development, #sociology