Ever been so busy you forgot to buy gas?
Ever been so busy you can’t send a text message saying how busy you are?
Ever been so busy that when you woke up for work it was dark, and now you look around and it’s dark again?
And I think generally this is the world a lot of us live in.
Lots of projects, lots of stake holders, users, customers and learning aids to develop.
Lots of research to do, micro-learning, micro-videos, micro-blogs.
Lots of debunking to do for leadership (HR and otherwise) who are reading sound bites instead of valid research. Myers-Briggs. Learning Styles, the myth of studying, the myth of taking notes.What’s a person to do?
Lots of curating, which means lots of reading, which turns into lots of tweeting, Facebooking, and G+’ing. Lots of book marking of favorites, feedly, Diigo, tumblr, “recipe” creation for IFTTT
Do not even get me started on blogging, slideshare creation, snap guide and LinkedIn posts which need creating.
Time to breathe
Time to “Look Up”
A while back, Jane Bozarth posted a few “Looking Up” pictures to Facebook. I didn’t tell her, and I probably should have, those pictures impacted me profoundly. (Ever been too busy with your life to express to others the impact they have had? Yeah it’s like that, so Jane here’s your public shout-out!). When was the last time I took a good look around me? What was happening that I should be aware of? Am I as aware as I should be, or could be? And as we close the year, now is as good a time as any to exam those thoughts.
Personally, “Looking Up” is about perspective. I can look around me, see the snow on the ground, the dead flowers and frozen grass – but looking up there is a brilliant sky, blue, clear, perfect. I see the disgruntled customer in line, but then look beyond him and see a child happy, laughing, giggling at the day. Where we find gloom & doom, we can look up and see beauty. Breathe. Slow down. Gain perspective.
“Looking Up” is a choice, a choice we often forget to make. We get caught up in all the things we THINK we are supposed to be doing. Neglecting things that are truly important. Anyone remember the Franklin Covey Time Matrix? Quadrant #2, the “Quadrant of Leadership” really should be the quadrant of “Looking Up”. Seeing things most people take for granted, and have simply forgotten.
Last night, driving home from dining out with Mr. Tipton, I put my phone down (which was tough I was reading a REALLY interesting article about Marissa Mayer) and looked up. Pitch blackness, (I live out in nowhereville) with the exception of some of the brightest stars I can remember seeing. Lost in the night sky, I tried to remember the last time I made a mental note of the celestial night sky above me. It had been awhile. Depressing really.
How does this tie together with L&D? I’m getting there, I promise.
There are so many things that capture our attention today. So many different things to manage with many hats to wear. One can easily get lost in the doom & gloom, repetitiveness of our day to day. As it is easy to forget to thank people who have made a difference – it is easy to forget that with each well intentioned L&D development; methodology, tool or trick that has run amok, there are those which have beauty. There are those where within its simplicity is magic. The mistake sadly, is L&D techniques/methodologies have been poked, prodded and forced into a pigeon hole where it can no longer breathe or adapt, where it no longer belongs. It is time to “Look Up” from 1960 research and rather than accepting it as mantra, look beyond and see where it all fits today.
From an L&D perspective – “Looking Up” is about taking the time, and having the courage to look beyond the norm.
Here are 4 thoughts to ponder.
- We don’t need no stinkin’ course! Or more precisely “Will the overall cost of this ‘event’ actually prevent, reinforce, or solve the issue at hand”? I’ll answer this one for you – most likely, no. Let’s “Look Up” and see solutions in a different light. Knowing, and more importantly accepting; that rarely, if ever, is a single training course the solution for anything.
- Sometimes jumping into the middle of the pool is required – ADDIE (SAM, Agile, etc) be damned, but will this actually prevent the “training” issue from happening again? Again, let me be helpful – it’s unlikely. Discovering the root cause of an issue is key. “Look Up” from Subject Matter Experts, and start asking “why”. “5 Why’s” a day is a true rebel approach.
- A fair amount of “training” issues happen because a culture sustains it, how do you expect the issue to go away if the culture doesn’t change? Because it is compelling and relevant to you, doesn’t make it compelling and relevant to everyone else. Never under-estimate the power of culture.
- “Look Up” and beyond from your L&D job description – This is not who you are, this is not your defining purpose. Your purpose is Performance Support, providing accessible knowledge when people need to have it. When they need to use it. This is your purpose.
L&D isn’t, at its core, rocket science. We pretend it is, but it’s not. Yes, there is a lot of homework required, a lot of information to keep up with, information to actually read and then form enlightened opinions. What is difficult, is not accepting the current opinions of squeaky wheel “guru’s” as absolute. “Looking Up” then becomes critical. Look up and see what else is around. Compare and contrast.
You don’t buy the first laptop you see during an Amazon search, do you? Of course not. So why accept the loudest voices as absolute? Look up.
“Looking Up” is about perspective, how you choose to view the life (and work) around you. Psychologists have long discussed the concept of cognitive distortion specifically, negative bias (). We can choose to “Look Up” and explore the positive view which surrounds all of us, or not. However, we all know the “Yeah, but…” person:
“That was a great game!” – “Yeah, but beer was $10.”
Some people can’t help themselves but this is our purpose: To not accept noise as truth, and not to accept negative filters or bias.
“Let’s pilot this collaborative space” – “Okay, but no one understand technology here” Sigh.
I encourage you to “Look Up” in 2015!
I guarantee there will be a curious adult standing nearby who wants to play in your sandbox. Look Up (and get up) from the space around you and find them. You’ll find the positive outweighs the negative, and once things start in positive motion there will be no stopping your momentum.
Donna Sparkes says
I’m curious why you noted Myers-Briggs as something to be debunked. Upon what do you base this assertion?
Shannon Tipton says
Donna, thank you for the question…curious minds at work! There are several pieces of research and articles that have long disputed the merits, as well as the validity of the Myers-Briggs model.
Here are a few links for you to review in order for you to formulate your own opinion. “Measuring MBTI and Coming Up Short” by David Pittenger: http://www.indiana.edu/~jobtalk/Articles/develop/mbti.pdf – or this research piece, “Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to Study Managers: A Literature Review and Research Agenda”, by William Gartner and Mark Martingo http://jom.sagepub.com/content/22/1/45.short – Who in short state, “The characteristics measured by the test have almost no predictive power on how happy you’ll be in a situation, how you’ll perform at your job, or how happy you’ll be in your marriage.”
Understand that even Jung himself warned that his personality “types” were just rough tendencies he’d observed, rather than strict classifications. I would also note the test was developed in the 1940s based off his untested theories and is now thoroughly disregarded by the psychology community.
Lastly, I would point you to this very thorough article, complete with references by Joseph Stromberg, “Why the Myers Brigs test is Totally Meaningless” http://www.vox.com/2014/7/15/5881947/myers-briggs-personality-test-meaningless
I hope I’ve answered your question and your journey takes you down some interesting paths of discovery.
How high? How far back do we need to bring our heads? Some blue sky viewing is cool for getting the kinks out and maybe thinking about what we could do in the great Out there. But I wonder if it would do us greater good to look over at the other (zombies?) people around us and empathize with each other.
More thoughts at http://ctdelearning.blogspot.com/2014/12/empathy-scales.html
Shannon Tipton says
Good point Urbie. Zombies, perhaps more so than you or I, need love and support to bring blood back into their souls. When you run across one, try not to chop off it’s head – instead offer support. (But protect your brains, just in case.) *wink*
Con Sotidis says
Oh Shannon , what a great post – superbly written and this on your birthday!!
I did associate a lot with this. I have been know to say that L&D is not rocket science – last time I looked the shingle on the office did not say “Life saving surgery performed here” – it said “L&D” – we don’t save lives so why are we trying to over engineer everything !
This is the same drum I bang on with MOOCS – some may say Con is anti-MOOCS but I have never said that. Similar to Jonathan Kettleborough’s recent Trends Blog Post I am a skeptic – let’s “look up” when it comes to MOOCs – lets not swallow everything we are offered, let’s discuss, critique, evaluate, analyse and determine how we can make them happen in organisations.
I also like your 4 thoughts to ponder – so simple and yet so hard to achieve – why? Because we continue to move back into our comfort zones:
“Do you want fries with that Mr. Manager?”
Great post Shannon and one that I will print and hang on my office wall.
Have a great holiday and here’s to a new year filled with inspiration and creativity in L&D.
Shannon Tipton says
Con – thank you for your kind comment! I had to laugh about the “Life saving surgery performed here” part. So true, I always have an internal giggle about “training emergencies” for just the same reason.
It is difficult to “Look Up” from where we are at and where we have always been. It’s like going to work each and everyday, and noticing that a new building went up on your route. When did that go up? Wow, that crew works FAST! It’s because we are in head down mode. Acting from muscle memory, and unfortunately a lot of people work in their day to day with the use of muscle memory rather than curiosity or wonderment. The 4 thoughts are about just that, stop working from rote and start “Looking Up” and questioning that which is around you. Then take some time to breathe, one thing I failed to mention, is when we relax the mind we can absorb more – our cognitive load can only take so much – Look Up, take a breath, relax, observe what’s around you. Make it a goal to NOTICE something new today.
Have a wonderful holiday! Here’s to #LookingUp 🙂
Jane Bozarth says
Now I gotta go find those pictures… 😉