I wrote a book review of John Wooden's Wooden on Leadership over at Joyful Jubilant Learning. In the comments that followed, Rick Cecil and Rosa Say inquire about how Coach Wooden learned his lessons. Throughout the book Coach talks about lessons in leadership. Rick and Rosa are asking, not what those lessons are, but how did he learn them in the first place.
Rick and Rosa's question was a spark to a hungry, dry thought that had been bouncing around in my head for some time. The how answer is right there in the book. This answer however, does not have a chapter devoted to it nor can it be found in a checklist, diagram or a set of bullet points. The only way it can be found is if you are actually looking for it. In Coach Wooden's case lessons are learned from his dad, coaches, players and opponents. And they are learned through a process that the Coach developed, enhanced and fine tuned over the years.
The process of actually looking for how type answers is what has piqued my curiosity. If you are an Abstract-reader, Cliff Note, bullet point, cut-to-the-fact aficionado-type dude, stop here. I will be wasting your time.
Design Intent- I first learned of this term from the engineering world fifteen years ago. What do you intend to build? I love it! How does the engineer's design intent match up to the project outcome? (This gap was so horrific in my industry that a whole new profession was created by it).
I approach learning from books with both design intent and design intent modified through the process by an open mind.
Design Intent - When I first read Wooden on Leadership, I was a manager. So I read the book with the intent on learning stuff to make me a better manager. When I read it for the second time I was no longer a manager. So I read it with the intention of developing my own personal leadership. I learned, albeit separate lessons each time.
Design Intent Modified - I'll use the book Ogilvy on Advertising as an example. David Ogilvy was a big time, big company advertising legend-icon. Popular thought might be that this book is targeted for upcoming advertising executives. And it most certainly is. But I am not. I read the book with the intent on becoming a better writer. As I journeyed through the book, I took David's lessons and modified to fit my own learning intent. Another example is What Color is Your Parachute? This book is targeted towards job seekers. As a manager, I used the author's lessons to help me be a better interviewer.
The second part of this last method involves allowing metaphors or similes to pull up a seat right next to your comfy reading chair. You will not come close to enjoying the benefits of metaphorical learning if you approach the book with; GOTTA LEARN; GOTTA LEARN; GOTTA LEARN! You need to be in a relaxed, anxiety free state. Lets say an author is teaching a lesson on the difference between marketing and selling. For this demonstration my author is Theodore Levitt. According to Ted (from his book The Marketing Imagination):
Selling focuses on the needs of the seller, marketing focuses on the needs of the buyer.
In a parent-child relationship; do you sell or do you market?
"Uhhh Dave? What's that got to do with business?"
Exactly my point!
See? If you were ripping through the book with the a blinders-on-GOTTA LEARN-mindset , you would have blown right past the opportunity to reflect on a very meaningful thought.
Rich learning opportunities abound in books. What is your design intent?
The dinosaur stood in the middle of the road - fast asleep...
"Hey Jimmy, do you think you could read my book? And if you like it, could you write about it at our forum?"
"Sure thing Billy."
Jimmy began to read Billy's book, which was really a marketing program in the form of a story. Within ten minutes he knew that it was more different than anything he'd seen in his industry. He devoured the book and wrote a passionate review. In fact, Jimmy's review was so strong, those riding the status-quo scooter could feel Jimmy grab them by the ears and shout, "wake up!"
Later, Billy called Jimmy and told him how he sold fifteen of the one-hundred and thirty dollar books and had leads for twenty more immediately following the review. Billy was so happy and thankful that he could hardly contain himself. Jimmy, eight-hundred miles away in a quiet basement, began to cry after hanging up with Billy.
It wasn't so much Billy's thanks. It was the emotion that surrounded it. Jimmy knew he'd made a difference in Billy's business and life...and tipped a dinosaur from his path.
Karen Wallace, at Joyful Jubilant Learning, talks about the ability to make a difference in the lives of others and whether or not you believe that you can. Karen bares her inner self in eloquent and beautiful fashion to demonstrate her own learning journey.
Note to Karen:
The above story is true. Jimmy told me so. He also said that for the rest of his life, whether or not he receives such an emotion packed response again, he knows that he has the ability to make a difference in people's lives.
I cannot imagine that participant in your class not delivering his feedback without some emotion. Allow yourself to feel that emotion. And allow it to tenderly take hold of your heart and tickle tears from your eyes. You can make a difference in the lives of others and tip dinosaurs from their path.
To move forward we must learn and retain some things along the way.
The Learning Journal / Worksheet
How do you remember what you read? How do you learn? Personally, I must have highlighters, paper, pencils and pens near me while I am reading. My brain gets this warm, fuzzy feeling when I write notes about what I read. I'll write in the book, on a piece of paper that might eventually get tossed or in a notebook. What if you had a way to organize your thoughts on a piece of paper? What if this worksheet were to guide your learning experience?
Tim Milburn has designed and created such a worksheet. In Project # 1 at Joyful Jubilant Learning, Tim provides a free download and explains each section of the worksheet.
I've lived in a left brained world for the first forty years of my life. Very organized, very detail oriented. So when I saw Tim's work, the rigid and structured brain cells hanging out in the left brain part of my head almost did a jig! Almost did a jig, left brain cells don't do dance. But, at least I was trying to imagine this jig going on inside my head when WHAM!!!!, I feel this train barrel into my brain from the other side. Right Brain Train. Outta control.
What if I were to create a design-type notebook incorporating Tim's Learning Journal worksheet? Lets say the goal is to try and learn something about a subject. Paste pictures and photographs in your notebook that remind you of your subject. Your right brain is playing and creating this part so nothing here needs to make perfect logical sense. Feel free to draw, sketch and color stuff around your pasted material. Now, weave the Learning Journal worksheets into your notebook. The material on your worksheets follow whatever it is that you are trying to learn. It could be notes taken from a class, from a chapter out of a textbook, from an Internet based program or from a DVD.
The idea here is to introduce each side of the brain to each other and then let them work together to learn something.