Jan 072013
 

I’ve just read David Kelly’s post, What I’m Looking for More of in 2013. Like me, David’s not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m not sure what his reasoning is; I know that despite all the social-media cheering for failure as a good thing, I’m not always prone to cheer for myself when I fail, particularly in the resolution-as-self-improvement realm.

One way that David’s working in that realm is to talk in public about things he wants to do more of this year. I certainly see the value in that; at the same time, because of my own tendencies, I’m often reluctant to discuss that kind of goal publicly. Falling short feels that much worse to me.

David lists four things he wants to do more of this year.

  • Read more
  • Write more
  • Do more
  • Help more

(Read his post for the details; this is the mini-summary.)

I’m particularly taken by what he says about “do more.”

I hear a lot of talk from people, including myself, about the type of work we should be doing. We adapt the way it should be done to the way it can be done within an organization. Sacrifices are made; that’s just the way things work in organizational learning.

But the fact is, until there are more examples of the way it should be done actually being done, with examples of the benefits reached by doing things differently, our industry will continue this cycle of doing what we’ve always done.

So when I say “Do More”, I’m really talking about opportunities to “Do Better”. I’m looking to get involved in projects both inside my organization and outside my organization that provide an opportunity to produce more examples of the needle being moved.

I think the “we” here refers to people in the learning field, especially the organizational learning field. I’ve often encouraged people who are considering proposing their first presentation for a professional group–to me, that’s one of the best ways to clarify your own understanding of what you’ve been doing and what value you can uncover for someone who’s doing or interested in doing something similar.

Or, even better, who’s grappling with a similar problem that you’ve had some success with.

At the same time, I’m sometimes surprised at the number of people whose jobs seem mainly to involve going to conferences. Depending on my mood, that could be puzzlement, or just plain jealousy.

Sure, I’d like to go to a few more conferences myself; the potential for face-to-face interaction is pretty easy to realize when you’ve connected virtually ahead of time.

While I’m on this conference tangent, I admit in all honesty, I have a certain… well, if not skepticism, then doubtfulness, about “speakers.” Hey, I like to speak. I know lots of words. I can talk, and I can even (though this might trigger your doubtfulness) be intentionally quiet.

My point is not to criticize many people I admire who have “speaker” listed on their site biographies. I just want to underscore David’s comment about doing. At a professional conference, I readily bail on keynote addresses; I want to hear from the practitioner.

David’s post came at a good time for me. This past year was not a roaring success, professionally, on many fronts. Frankly, I’ve been stuck for a while, feeling frustrated that X wasn’t happening and that Y turned out so poorly. This isn’t a useful way to proceed for very long.

So what positive goals will I set for myself?

  • Do more. David has his meaning for this; I have mine. I want to work on more projects, or longer projects. I want to connect with clients to help them achieve better results. I also want to help them avoid doing any more training than they have to, both because training usually isn’t the route to better results, and because so much of what’s done in the name of training just plain isn’t very good.
  • Connect more. I don’t comment or communicate with my professional colleagues as often as I’d like. In fact, for certain people whom I really admire, I tend not to connect; I don’t want to be taking up too much of their time. So I want to find opportunities to share more and collaborate more. In particular I want to find opportunities to collaborate in Canada.
  • Write more–and regularly. Were it not for Jay Cross helping me understand how blogs work, and Harold Jarche setting the example of thinking out loud about what interests me professionally, I would not have nearly 600 posts here on my Whiteboard. 2012 was a sporadic year for me, though. I want to rebuild the habit of posting regularly, which requires the habit of thinking regularly. The French verb réfléchir can be translated as to think about or to think over as well as to reflect.
  • Count more. This is just an offhanded way of saying I want to monitor what I’m doing and compare what’s going on to what I said I wanted to have going on.

About that monitoring: I’ve written a few times about weight, health, and performance management (as in this post from two and a half years ago). I weigh myself at the same time nearly every morning, and I track the data both in a food-diary app and on a spreadsheet. This routine has had the side benefit of making me very clear about normal variation. Small gains from one day to the next don’t bother me; small losses are more fun to see, but I don’t take them seriously in the absence of a trend.

There’s other stuff I’d like to get in there, but I know I’m better off focusing on four things than fourteen. So thanks to David both for sharing his ideas and for helping me tease out some of mine.

  5 Responses to “Some “more””

  1. Thanks for the post Dave. We’re on the same wavelength when it comes to the points mentioned (maybe not the tracking of food as it would stun me senseless as to what I’m eating so sometimes ignorance is bliss).

    I agree, I enjoy listening to the practitioners because they make me think about why and how they applied their solution to a problem. For the first time this year, I have not come up with resolutions although I do have certain personal and professional goals I’d like to achieve. They’re floating around in my head at the moment but one of them is “to take some time and just look out the window” – what I mean by that is rather than have my head down at the laptop, phone or tablet or book – actually sit, think and reflect more. Give myself the liberty to have my mind wander without feeling guilty.

    Thank you for your feedback, advice, suggestions too as I have felt that our connection through Twitter has been beneficial to my development. I certainly appreciate it.

    Have a happy new year!

  2. Re: Do More.
    In my last corporate role my first boss (of many, that’s another story) directed me during onboarding to “do good and lots of it.” In the same conversation, he griped about a screwup with my personnel (yep, before the HR bandwagon came to town) paperwork that “we can do better than that.” My takeaway was I’m here to lead my team to solve problems the business brings to us. Doing better is the key. My goal with each and every role (volunteer and paid) is to leave the place better than I found it. I also take the same approach with personal development. Reflection and check points are important since we may need to adjust, revisit or abandon.

    I do appreciate the thoughtfulness of Dave and David. I look forward to your communiques. Here’s to a successful new year by whatever measure.

  3. Thanks for sharing my post and for expanding upon it with your own thoughts. I love your point about Counting More. A little accountability goes a long way.

    Thanks for the sharing the reflection, and for all the writing you do.

  4. Helen:

    I’ve been overweight a good part of my life, and I’m happier when I’m less so. Success at maintaining a lower weight comes from a number of factors; one of them, for me, is mindfulness. The food diary app I used, based on the Weight Watchers system, is a factor that works for me.

    As for the practitioners: I’ve always liked the saying that in theory, there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is. So many corporate training efforts seem to charge ahead without the direct involvement of the people who have to get their work done.

    In an organization you’ll always have tensions between the need for (and value of) standardization and the value of (and need to encourage) flexibility.

    I’ve enjoyed connecting with you as well and look forward to that continuing.

  5. Don,

    One of the lightbulb experiences for me came during my time in the sales training group for a computer services company. We’d worked hard on some in-person product training. One of the sales reps said when he arrived, “I hope this is good; it’s costing me $96,000.”

    What he meant was that one way of looking at his quote was as an amount of business closed per day. Our sales cycle was long, so it’s not like he had a deal to close each day. But this metric to me was his equivalent of stepping on the scale every day: it reminded him of what was most important about his job. And it said to me that our sales-training group needed to be sure that whatever we offered was worth the lost-opportunity cost.

    Thanks for your kind words, Don; I’ve enjoyed our many virtual exchanges as well.

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