Give Yourself an ‘A’

How to get the thing you want!

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This is a real rule breaker for some. You can’t just give yourself an A. You have earn your ‘A’. But bear with me as I walk you through quite a powerful formula for achieving a goal or a series of achievements.

How Does This Work?

We’ve all heard of goal setting. This is goal setting in reverse.

‘Giving an A’ is projecting into the future about a significant goal or achievement that is important to you as though you have already achieved it.

It could be any number of things. You then work backwards to determine all the things you ‘did’ to ensure you achieved the goal.

Once you’ve done that, take one step at a time, on those things that you expect to help you achieve your goal.

As you progress, things may change but if the goal is significant enough, you’ll take the time to adjust your direction, activities and attitudes to keep you heading towards your goal.

Here’s the kicker: The time frame you have set for achieving your goal will pass. The date will arrive. Nothing surer! Will you be tracking along with that timeline?

What’s your goal?

Let’s assume it is six months in the future and you have, indeed, received your “A”.

Imagine for a moment how that feels.

  • You’ve got your driver’s licence for the first time
  • You’ve lost that nagging couple of kilos
  • You’ve presented the pitch and won

Don’t skip this part. Imagine, in the future, receiving your reward: physical, mental and/or emotional.

(By the way, it’s good to define the reward too. It may be the thing itself (losing weight, getting the license) or it may be something you reward yourself with for achieving the goal (a holiday, a new thing you’ve always wanted).

Now start writing down all the things you ‘did’ to increase the chances of the ‘A’ being achieved. This can range from simple tasks (losing weight = walk/run 4km per day for 30 days (my current goal)) to taking a course and applying the key methods learnt in the course and getting feedback from a respected peer, manager, significant other.

You can do this in one of two way (maybe there’s more, let me know in the comments). You start at the end, just before the goal is achieved and work backwards.

Or, you can work forwards, taking small steps at the start to help build momentum. As James Clear said in his post today, “plan what you can do on your worst day, make it that simple!”

Take the time to plan it out. It doesn’t have to be hundreds of steps.

Another goal of mine is to learn to touch type. My goal each day is to type for “15+1”. That is, on day one I touch typed for 15 minutes. On day two it was 16 minutes (15+1) and so on. By the time 30 days is up, I am typing 45 mins per day which, I hope, will actually see me touch type more than “hunt and peck!” I am so looking forward to that level of productivity.

A note on planning: While above I have said to plan it out and I believe that is important, you may not know all the steps at first. That is okay. Lou Tice (and many others), founder of The Pacific Institute used a phrase: “Set the goal, invent the “how””. You may not know all the steps at the start. Start with a clear goal and figure to the “first of first” steps.

I work within a project framework at work and while we plan out the project step by step as much as we can, the number of changes made along the way are innumerable. No-one is upset by that, we all expect it to be the case.

If your goal is to begin a meditation practice, it might start with getting up at 5am every day (pick a time best for you) and meditate for one minute, then two, then three.

Think of your goal and work backwards, Remember you are going to be an ‘A’ student at the end of this.

The Added Benefit

The added benefit of working in this manner is we begin to act and think like ‘A’ students. Even if we have never been one.

It is quite amazing the things you will allow and not allow once you fix your mind on the goal.

I recently decided to not buy coffee at work. I was spending something like $200 per month on purchased coffees. Many for me, and many I bought for others, so may it was about $300 per month. Add that up and you’re looking around $4,000 per year on coffee!

So, in acting like an ‘A’ student in this area, I had to change my thoughts, language and behaviour. From being known at work as someone who will regularly buy coffee, I had to lower that profile. I also had to find ways of not buying the others were. I could head out with them for the social aspect but not buy a coffee and not allow them to buy me one either – as that set the expectation I would reciprocate. Which I would because it would be awkward not to.

The benefit isn’t in becoming a cheapskate who never buys coffee, it’s more than that. It’s learning how I want to behave, how I turn up at work and manage my relationships with great colleagues through a period of transition.

How do I feel each time I’m asked if I want a coffee? What will I say? Will I offend some? Do I just tell them straight out, “I’m not buying coffee for a month”?

What if I screw up?

Restart!

A goal isn’t lost completely based on a couple of backwards steps. In his book Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz said a habit begins to form around the 21 day mark. That is beginning to form as in, not set in stone. This takes time.
It’s like year 12 students being told their final exam is the most important thing they’ll do in their lives. (at least here in Australia)

And so…
Giving yourself an A is a liberating exercise. Because you get to choose what you want the A to be about. You have total control over that.

Set the goal and invent the “How”!

Write down the goal, read about it every day. I find when I do that it is easier to maintain the momentum towards the goal. When I don’t do that, I lose momentum and, if I miss long enough, I forget about the goal itself.

Here’s a tool I use when I interview candidates for a role (or am interviewed for a role):

STAR: Situation, Task, Actions, Result or, if you’re working backwards from the goal: RATS!

  • Situation – where you find yourself and not having the “Thing” – the goal.
  • Task – the overall activities you need to do to achieve the Thing!
  • Actions – mini tasks. What do you need to do to complete each Task, if there are multiple.
  • Result– the Goal or the Thing.

Lastly …
If I was figuring out the goal prior to starting the STAR approach, I’d describe the goal in as much detail as I could.

For example:
GOAL: I want to lose weight (actually x kg, be specific). I want to lose weight because … and away you go describing in as much detail for you how good this is going to be, why you want to do it and the benefits you’re going to enjoy.
And then…

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Actions
  • Result.

Not Happy!

I feel like you’re average mechanic!

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You know the story about the mechanic, it can apply to gardeners as well.

Everyone else’s car (or garden) is immaculate while the mechanic’s car is a bit dodgy, and the gardener’s garden could do with some TLC.

That’s how I’m feeling at the moment. Not great!

I could go on a “poor, poor pitiful me” but who really cares? I mean that genuinely. We’re all going through something. I’m just publishing it.

There are two reasons I’m writing this:
  1. I’m learning to touch type and one of my goals is to practice for 15 minutes every day. And increase that by one minute every day for 30 days. Meaning by day 30, I will be touch typing for at least 45 mins every day. It may mean, by that time, I will be touch typing full time.
  2. The second reason is I want to write a post per day for the next 30 days as part of a plan to reignite some energy and momentum in my day. This will also help with the practice of touch typing.
The Next 30 Days

I’ve decided to add some other items to the list for the next 30 days. The category in brackets is the primary area I hope to benefit.

  • Drop 10kg – this is more an outcome of some other actions below (Health)
  • Touch typing as mentioned above (Productivity)
  • Consume no sugar and no grains (Health)
  • Run 4km per day – this may be a brisk walk as I acquired a couple of blisters yesterday when trying some new shoes (Health)
  • Blog post every day as mentioned above (Hobby)
  • Purchase no new things – there is one purchase I need to make, I’ll share what and why once it is complete (Finances)
  • Do not purchase shop coffee – this will be a significant challenge (Finances)
  • No alcohol – also a bit of a challenge as I so like a nice red (Health)
  • Finish reading a textbook – Transcend by Scott Barry Kaufman (Education)
  • Finish reading a novel – The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky (Recreation)
  • Journal every day – this post is a result of this morning’s journal (Health)
  • Practice Active Constructive Responding (Relationships)

This may seem like a lot to take on. Perhaps it is, but many of these things are common, every day things that simply need focus and attention.

I have typed this as best I can by touch typing so I can tick that off for today. And as this is a blog post, that has been accomplished as well.

Tomorrow will be an update on my progress, how I’m feeling and what changes I’m sensing.

We are what we eat!

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There are a number of ways to be happy. But all the ways I can think of have one thing in common: the present.

You can’t be happy in the past: it’s over. (Yes, you can be happy with the past!)

You can’t be happy in the future: it’s not here yet! (Yes, you can look forward to your future!)

But you can only be happy … now! Even when the future finally arrives, it transmogrifies into … now!

And, with that massive scientifically proven statement, let’s look at a facet that can affect our happiness.

What we consume.

I’m not talking about food but information.

A topic like this can go off on all sorts of tangents and we are all individuals so not every tangent will apply to everyone.

Let’s bring it back to ourselves. The rest of this article is for you to think about you! It has really made me think about the information I consume.

Is what we are consuming adding to our happiness, our contentment, our goals? Or is it debilitating?

I have a really good Twitter feed. The people I follow are inspirational and positive for the most part, many are quite witty and I enjoy their content. Some go off on rants then apologise then rant again. (I mute them for a while. Like sending them to the naughty corner! 😉)

But I’ve begun to notice my mood as I scroll through the feed, the same on Instagram. Am I being fed? Am I leaving the feed better than when I started? That is what I’d like to happen. Selfish? Possibly! But it’s my life and I want to be happy, content and satisfied for as much time as I can. Don’t you?

As Marcus Aurelius is often quoted, which also applies to our media based interactions:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

So the tough times, awkward situations and difficult people are going to occur. Why would I not seek to control what I consume if I can?

(To be fair, the people I work with are some of the best people I have ever worked with, so, there is that! 😀)

Even reading inspirational posts can leave you dissatisfied (I could never do that! It must be wonderful for them. If only I had the willpower!) We start off full of enthusiasm and then realise maybe we haven’t got what they clearly have!

This is not to say we shouldn’t read great works, and work on improving ourselves. Not at all. But we need to start where we are and not assume or think we get a head start based on someone else’s experience or story. And, sorry to say, are all stories true?

My point about consumption is to be cautious with what we consume. Can we use the information immediately? Can we apply the same rules as the author? I’d dare say, in most cases, no!

What to do

Many people I know, and I have done this, do a regular review of what they are consuming. Turning off the mainstream news is a start. Most of it is negative and many times, sensationalism. (They have their job to do, after all, which is sell information and product.)

And then we can look at our social media feed. Is it feeding you positively? Or is it leaving you a little despondent? Take the time to identify what is causing the downward trend and ask yourself if you need this. Maybe not. Unfollow.

Before I am accused of being a killjoy, I’m not suggesting you cut everything off! Not at all. But I am suggesting we look for those avenues that take us toward what we want a little more carefully.

The TV (or the Demon Box!)

One the areas I have taken to edit is the TV. I don’t think I’m an orphan here. I hear of a lot of shows that dramatise discord and conflict and many enjoy these. My wife included. She loves her crime shows. I admit we did watch Breaking Bad and The Good Wife in their entirety, among others.

Lately, I have decided to not get “caught up” in these types of shows simply because they depict conflict as part of their premise and I don’t need any more of that. I prefer a calming evening. We do watch re-runs of Friends, Big Bang and Brooklyn 99, Spy and I am enjoying the Welcome to Wrexham series.

As I am trying to convey, it’s not about total elimination of TV or other media but the discriminate review of what we consume to improve our mood, outlook and overall well being. As a very specific example, while we enjoy the Friends series, neither my wife and I can watch the episodes with “on again off again Ross and Rachel”. Others love that!

If you are engaged by certain elements of the media and they help you grow and be a better person, go nuts. The opinions above are mine, in an attempt to demonstrate the choices we have to enjoy some peace and solitude when we want it. And to gain control of what we consume to help us access that peace and solitude any time we like.

Just like too much coffee can give you the jitters, perhaps too much consumption of certain media can too. And also like coffee, some can consume coffee late at night and still get a good night’s sleep. Others … can’t! 😵‍💫

As always, you be you!

Not everyone is triggered by the same inputs. And, as I said in my opening, this can go off on many tangents that affect everyone differently. I’ve used examples to help you review your situation to help bring a little more joy and happiness to your “now”.

I hope, in some way, I’ve triggered some positive action for you.

We become what we consume.

As a man (person) thinketh, so is he!

James Allen
The Test

Now you’ve read the paper, it’s time for the test, if you wish to play! 😉

For the next three days, check what you consume and mentally give it a tick or a cross. If you’re really keen, write them down in columns of “good vs evil” – just for fun. After three days, decide what you want to do with your lists!

What Time Is It?

What time would you like it to be?
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It’s a cynical view of consultants that they’ll tell you what you want to hear! Not necessarily, what you need to hear.

But what if they are right? What time do you want it to be?

Consider this: the future is literally made up!

Every invention we have today started as a thought, a concept, an idea. Nothing more.

Edison may have been credited with inventing the light bulb but today, the question isn’t, “What light bulbs do you have?” It’s, “What light bulb do you want?”

When I offer to buy someone a coffee, the second question is: “What coffee do you want?” Not everyone wants a long back with cream! 🤷‍♂️

So, what kind of day do you want? If that’s too long term, what would a good hour look like? (Half hour? Moment?)

The point is, going back to the consultant question …

What do you want?

The real challenge for the consultant, and for us, is whether we have the efficacy to bring the goal to pass?

Efficacy: the ability to produce a desired or intended result.

It’s one thing to want a thing. It’s another thing to bring it about.

I would suggest though, that most of us, have that ability.

  • Want a new car? Do you have the ability to save?
  • Want to have a good day? Do you have the ability to plan and stick to a schedule you plan?
  • Want a peaceful demeanour? Do you have the ability to block out calamity?

I’d suggest we all have the abilities. Most of it comes to a choice. To do or not to do. (I seriously didn’t mean to channel Yoda! 🙄)

A lot of this comes down to moments. What will we do in the moment? What is our choice?

My current moment

I’m sitting here having a coffee (long black with cream, if you’re following along) and sourdough! I shouldn’t be having the sourdough for health reasons. Some can, I can’t! But it is so delicious. But there was a moment where I could have decided not to indulge. I chose to do so.

I’ll have the opportunity to choose again tomorrow. One moment at a time.

Back to the beginning
Imagine I am your consultant. You’ve come to me looking for some clarity, some guidance on where t from here.

You ask: “Who and what am I?”
My response: “Who and what do you want to be?”

My “who and what”

I have a list of items I read every day. These are my affirmations. They cover who and what I want to be. They are not true at the moment. They are my goals.

Reading them every day imprints them in my mind. It’s a subtle mechanism to re-orient how I see myself. Maybe that sounds woo-woo. Except it’s based on how the mind works.

Everything we believe about ourselves to be currently true has occurred the same way, either consciously, or subconsciously. The constant imprinting of a belief that becomes true!

James Clear writes about it this way (if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe James! 😉)

In Atomic Habits, he mentions a situation with two smokers (note they are both currently smoking).

They are each offered a cigarette.

One responds with, “No thank you, I’m trying to quit.”

The other? “No thanks, I don’t smoke!”

And so …

The question isn’t, “Who are you?”
The question is, “Who do you want to be?”

And then, like every human invention in history: you make it up!

No Comparions

You be you!

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A quick back story:

Years ago I was in a church where there was the discipline of morning prayer. You could do this at home but, if you were a “disciple”, it was better to be seen at the church building praying, anywhere from 6am to 8am.

The discipline of a morning meditation* was really good. The need to be seen? Not so much. In fact, if you missed attending for a couple of days you got the “didn’t see you at morning prayer, brother!” So there was this expectation and, as young me, there was always the pursuit of trying to be better. Again, nothing wrong with that.

One day, I overheard a friend say he got up at 4am to pray. Holy prayer mats, Batman!

Not to be outdone, I also got up at 4am to pray.

This was hard! Partly because of another church custom: fellowship.

This was coffee and food after church to be friendly to others, encourage each other and build relationships. Another plus for church and similar communities.

But going to bed after 10:30 and getting up at 4am was a tough gig. Not to be deterred, I stuck it out for a couple of weeks. But in the end, it was too much. I had to pack the 4am starts in and try and be a normal person.

A month or so after that, feeling like a failure in my prayer habits and clearly a very unspiritual disciple, I mentioned my efforts to my friend.

He laughed: “You obviously didn’t hear the whole conversation!”

“Oh?”, I responded, wondering what I had missed.

“Yeah, what I was saying was I had got up at 4am one time to try and it was hopeless. It was stupid. I get up at 6:30 every day!”

Needless to say we both had a good laugh!

It’s obvious to say we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others but we tend to do this without thinking.

Here are some things to consider next time you’re scrolling Social Media:
  1. What is their background? What do they bring to the situation you don’t know about?
  2. What do they not say? This isn’t the sin of intentional omission, it could simply be they have information, skills, knowledge they take for granted they wouldn’t even think to share. For example a blogger with experience in journalism.
  3. What effort do they put in that we can’t see? We only get to see the end product in many cases. I like it when people on YouTube give us a behind the scenes look at their set up. It brings a whole lot of context.
  4. Don’t be a literalist. This is taking everything at face value. It becomes a binary argument: this OR that. Rarely is that the case. There are so many shades of grey! (More than 50, I’d say!)
What to do:
  1. What do you admire about the person? Admiration is great, we need role models. What attributes do you see that you would like for yourself. Write them down.
  2. Allow space for yourself. You are not, and cannot, be them. You can be you. What does that mean? Write it down.
  3. What are your goals in this area? Have you defined them clearly? Write them down.
  4. What tasks need to be addressed for you to fulfil #2? (you be you)
  5. What actions can you take to start completing those tasks? When can you do the first of those tasks?
To Finish

Another erroneous comparison I have made.

I follow Yiannis Christodoulou, on Twitter (@Yiannis_83). With 83 being in his profile I assume he is 20 years younger than me. He is quite the accomplished triathlete in his age group. But I assumed he had been doing this since he was a kid. I assumed he’s been brought up swimming, running and riding for decades!

If I compare myself to him, I probably can’t emulate his feats.

Au contraire!

Read his tweet of 4 days ago:

Used with kind permission from Yiannis


He only started swimming 10 years ago! And he started to run! And yet he has achieved so much!

We can be very fickle.

We see people who have made it and we think we can do exactly the same, without knowing their background.

We also see people who are accomplished and we think we can’t emulate them, without knowing their background.

If that isn’t an endorsement for you be you, I don’t on know what is.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Admire their feats, sure and now start where you are.


*Funny that back then we referred to meditation as new age woo-woo! (Maybe they still do!) 🙄

Also, thanks to Yiannis for allowing me to mention him and his success in his journey!

Create Your own Brag Book!

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Yes! You’re allowed to!

Hello again!

Welcome to another week. 

We had the family over for a Spanish style meal (paella, which my Spanish friend, Gonzalo, will only allow me to call “Rice with Stuff” because it’s not true paella. Tastes good but! 😉)

Today’s post about a really cool idea I discovered while doing research about beliefs and how they impact our lives as well as a deep dive into stress, particularly the good stress, Eu-stress. More articles to come on those topics soon.

Oh, and if you’ve eaten too much over the weekend, #dontstress, just start again! (That’s what I’m doing! 😬)

On with the show!

Bill

Today’s newsletter is a link to an article by David Hoang. David writes the newsletter “Proof of Concept”. The article, Your Career Hype Doc, is from December 2020 but it is too good not to share.

David talks about having a Hype Document, kind of like a brag book of all your accomplishments. David got the idea from a 2019 post by Jessica Ivins where she writes about a Career Management Document.

My contribution is to encourage you to take the time to investigate this and write down your accomplishments. I hear so many times from so many people who look at their work and shrug it off as if it was nothing. 

Write Stuff Down

I have noticed that I encourage people to write things down … a lot. This means taking time to think through the thoughts that pop into your head while you’re reading these posts or others you come across. Sometimes that can feel like a waste of time when we have so many other things to do. And if the information is important “I’m sure I’ll remember it!”

The palest ink is better than the best memory.” – Chinese proverb

This isn’t to give you homework! 😉 It is to provide you with a structure to make the most of your readings. So, for your benefit, take the time to note down your accomplishments. Pick a time frame, whether that be weekly or monthly, like David. And review how well you have done. 

You may not be where you want to be … but you won’t be where you were!

Most importantly, you’ll realise all of the things you do well. Which for some people, who tend to beat themselves up, will be a nice change. This really is an important activity.

Below is my progress for April. I’ve added a second page to my process. 

The left had side is bullet points as I think of them throughout the month. I don’t edit them. I write as I think. 

The right hand side is for looking for themes and summarising. I’ll do that at month’s end. That will help me encapsulate what I have done/achieved and I expect it will suggest next actions and directions to take.

Additional benefit: This would be a really good coaching tool for someone you’re working with. Ask them to take note of their daily or weekly wins. The have them review them with you when you catch up and, using there right hand side, ask them to articulate what this means for them! Could be quite powerful.


One last thing.

I’ve joined a gym, Flow Performance, here in Perth. If you’re in Perth, and can get to Balcatta, highly recommended! The community they have built over the past few years is amazing. And to that end I bought some Nike Metcon shoes, which seem to be quite popular in gyms. I also took the time to customise them a little. 😉

Providing Certainty

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One of the issues surrounding workplaces and the community is the increase in ambiguity.

I can recall my first role where “Able to manage ambiguity within the business” was in the position description. It was around the Y2K debacle. So … fairly appropriate. Few really knew what was going on or what was going to happen.

It the seemed that ambiguity was the word of the year and something to be proud of. Perhaps in some cases, for leaders in particular, it may be so. But if you want to to get the best from your team, I’d be counselling leaders to provide what certainty they can to those who do the actual work.

Here are some suggestions – there is no rocket science here. It is more a matter of doing the work rather than just acknowledging that this work could be done (but isn’t):

  • create a weekly newsletter outlining the achievements of the past week and the plans for the coming week
  • bring team members into the planning process. Allow them to communicate with their teams (no hush-hush meetings)
  • provide clear and specific feedback regularly, both positive and constructive.
  • maintain consistency – don’t be one person or type of leader one day and another the next. I had a leader who was like this and we’d message each other in the morning as to her mood! (I also have to admit that have been that leader! 😞)

Create Your Own Certainty

While this applies to us as leaders, it also applies to us within our functional role. What can we do to improve our own level of confidence as to what is happening?

  • Read the weekly newsletter (!)- and in this case, ask questions, don’t read it passively. It won’t stick. If someone is called out for doing a good job, find out what they did and maybe send them a note of congrats.
  • Reflect on your perforce of a task – what could you dod different/better next time? This is like feedback but within yourself.
  • Research information that can bring clarity to your immediate role. Expanding your knowledge allows you to develop a broader context.
  • Nothing is as bad or as good as it seems – maintain consistency within yourself. Learn not to panic or over react to adverse situations.

The more people are certain of their surroundings and immediate future, the more they can bring their full self to work. This means you are working together on the goal and less on trying to motivate or cajole people into improved performance.

If people are working in ambiguity unnecessarily, they can take actions (or inaction) that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Not only does it affect them but also affects the team and the business.

To Do

Think of one or two things you can do today that might increase the certainty of those you work and interact with. This can be colleagues, peers, your leader and those you lead as well as friends and family.

Let me know in the comments how you do this. I’d be keen to know. Plus I get to steal all your good ideas! 😉

Have an awesome and clear day!

Cheers

Using SCARF to Develop your Team

A new SCARF based staff development/coaching template is now available on the Resources page here.

The template uses the SCARF Model to help leaders determine where their staff are in relation to the five factors in the model. The template uses a rating scale of 1 through 10. This allows a leader to determine granular levels of each factor. You can also use an either/or approach. This means you can assess whether a team member is in threat mode or reward mode.

Look for Trends

It is important to have data to support your views or you may be off on a wild goose chase. Also note, people can have bad days and weeks, so also look for trends over time. A quieter day in the team may simply mean they’ve had an argument with their spouse.

Go Deeper

Another aspect is to go a little deeper than outward appearances only. This takes a little more care but you don’t need to be a psychologist. This might be what is referred to as “Will vs Skill”. If a person has the skills to complete a task but doesn’t, then it may be a “will” issue. There may be something internally preventing them.

Will vs Skill

A simple example I have come across many times is sales. People join organisations for a purpose and then sales comes into the role. (Or perhaps it was there all long and they have avoided it). Regardless, they now need to jump on the sales train.

Some people are averse to this approach with customers and avoid it. Leaders will consider all sorts of strategies to win them over.

The point about going deeper is to understand the aversion to sales itself. This may comes down to beliefs, attitudes and habits around the concept of selling. There could be many reasons for this:

  • family background is adverse to sales people
  • have been scammed before vowed to never do that to others
  • don’t want to be seen as a salesperson in the worst sense (many people use the “used car salesperson” metaphor)
  • Won’t people see me as pushy?
  • What if people say no? We all hates rejection.

In relation to the SCARF model, this might be seen as a threat and so they may use common behaviours to deal with the threat:

  • Fight – push back (e.g. why do I have to sell?)
  • Flight – avoid “selling” and describe is as better customer service (without the required results)
  • Freeze – reduction in contact with customers (in a contact centre this may look like shortened call times, hanging up on customers)
  • Flinch – using most of the process with out closing the sale (aka asking for the order)

The point is to assess where your individual team members are on the scale and work towards supporting them to the more beneficial side of the equation.

Closing the Learning Loop

One of the dilemmas of trainers is in ensuring people to retain and apply the learning they have experienced.

This is one of my bug bears where I don’t want to spend time with a group, get great evaluations and feel they’ve “got it” only to find very little has been applied. I mean, application is the whole point.

I feel there is an open loop to learning that can be easily closed.

It’s back on the job, where the pressure of the work day and volume of requests do their very best to limit the time and effectiveness of embedding the learning.

People want to apply what they have learned because they remember what the benefit is. It’s having the time and clarity of what to do.

To that end, I have created a “Today I Learned” template.

This is a simple tool designed to allow a learner to have conversation on paper to make sure they are closing the loops to their learning.

It starts with a simple:

Today I Learned… and asks the learner to write down what the learning was. It could be a concept (Today I Learned … how to create an effective meeting agenda) to a whole workshop (Today I Learned … CPR).

So Now I Can … It then asks the learner what that means. This clarifies the purpose and benefit of the learning.

  • So now I can … set up meetings effectively … to help me stay on track.
  • So now I can … administer CPR if it’s needed … and save someone’s life.

I also suggest writing this in a format where you can explain it to others. This also helps in embedding the information.

But now back to work …

So you’ve just completed the best course you’ve ever attended and you’re keen to get stuck into it back at work (maybe CPR (above) was the wrong example to be keen about! 🙄)

But now, back at work with the pressures and demands, Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve comes into mess things up! Elements are forgotten. We lose confidence and focus on the information just learned. It all becomes too hard and we hope we don’t need to administer CPR for at least 12 months.

To counter this, I’ve added the element of:

But I have questions … this allows the individual to acknowledge they had the training and gained some value. But now what do they do when they need to apply the skills/knowledge? It can all get a bit fuzzy, which means questions will arise.

  • Do I pull out the checklist first or do I go straight into CPR?
  • What if I get a stage the wrong way round?
  • “What if …, What if … What if …”

This section allows the learner to write down what’s in their head. Often in writing it out, the answer will become clear. Other times it may require contact with the trainer. (I’d be more than happy to help clarify concepts with a learner after a workshop. Their effectiveness back at work is the whole point, after all!)

The last two sections are:

  1. What is preventing me: a list of things that might be getting in the way
  2. What I plan to do is: a set of steps to overcome the preventions and create momentum

Finally

This is also intended as a coaching plan. Using it with a learner, it helps clarify the issues that are preventing improved performance or blocks to developing a skill. A good coach can work through each section and allow the learner to develop their own solutions.

You can find a copy on the Resources Page. I hope you find it helpful.

I’d be keen to get your thoughts. Have you developed something similar?

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