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The New World of Today’s Student

The New World of Today’s Student

When I think back over a lifetime of learning, I realize that there were certain times I was a great student, and others in which I was just going through the motions, reaping relatively little from the effort.

My schooling was a period of time when I learned pretty intensively because that was simply the overall expectation, and without work or age as conflicting contenders for my attentions, learning in school was about all I did. Then, I remember learning in such a rapid-fire, open minded and near-gullible way in the early years of my work career because I was an open book, still without the “I’m experienced now” baggage or “our way” loyalties that can get in the way at times. Most recently, and amazing to me almost daily, has been within the past few years, where a developing entrepreneurial mindset and the creation of Managing With Aloha (both my book and coaching curriculum) has continually challenged me to make any and all learning near instantaneously applicable.

Today, my awareness of web-based communications and the open-source software playground has been like a breach in the dam, with the learning deluge sweeping me away on a different current with virtually every new web page I visit. I no longer have to entice myself to learn, my effort is to filter those enticements so I make the best choices on the menu! Learning is a given, the only question is my diligence and focus in keeping it sequential and consequential.

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“ … Sequential in that it builds upon previous lessons-learned, and it takes you through a process where you question instruction and do not always accept what you are taught at face value; you polish it like a gem in your mind until something about it rings true for you. Consequential in that it is worthwhile stuff; it makes a difference for you, and you aren’t simply collecting lessons on some scorecard. There’s some personal take-away in it for you. Now that you know it, you’re going to use it.”
Managing with Aloha

Why learn at all?

I think you instinctively know the answer to that. Learning fuels our capacity for growth. We learn when we need new skills, when we want more knowledge, and when we begin to seek mastery and wisdom. When you gain more knowledge you have more confidence, and that confidence can serve to liberate you toward releasing a creative spirit you may not even have realized you possessed. You constantly give birth to new possibilities in this creative process; you create your own destiny, one of choice and not fate or pure dumb luck.

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There have been certain times in my life I have learned best because of how the stage was set for it. I mentioned my early work career as a turbo-charger up the learning curve, and after over thirty years in the corporate workplace, I discovered that there is nothing like self-employment for making an adult student learning-obsessed again. To a business owner, knowledge is the asset of intellectual capital—and everyone you work with has some to be mined like the gemstones they are.

Today I have to look for great teachers; they won’t be handed to me. Hindsight has been 20-20, and in my case, older was wiser. One of the most exciting things about the work I now do with virtual communities is in the discovery of how biological age has melted down to irrelevance when it comes to our online classrooms. Those of you reading this whom are younger, and those much younger than I, will truly have the world as your oyster, reaping benefits far greater in magnitude than known in previous generations.

Today’s Best Action Step

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Take the time to reflect, and see if you can determine exactly how you learn best:
This is a quick exercise; write down your answers so you can always look back at them.

  • When you look back on your own stages of learning, what were the triggers for you? What made the difference?
  • Who made the difference? Beyond their names, why? What kind of teacher got the best out of you?
  • What could you learn right now, that you are certain would translate into knowledge you could instantly apply and use?

The exercise is a useful one for you so that you can deliberately invoke those triggers, and replicate those best-set stages.

Those who know me best, have repeatedly heard me say that this is a New World of Learning. My current focus has been the workplace, and most recently the traditional (i.e. stuck) school, and one of my favorite learning tools, given as gifts to the employers not yet using them, is the blogging platform as all-user friendly intranets versus their static incarnations as HR bulletin boards only the IT guy could post to. Online collaboration tools like virtual project management sites open eyes with teamwork like never before. These ARE gifts. We’ll talk about this more next Thursday when I visit you again.

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Part two of this discussion will be called My Employer, My Teacher. Meanwhile, if you think you have an employer who is a great teacher, please share your story in the comments, as I will continue to edit my draft over the next week’s time —you can help all of us learn more about the best practices now in the workplace.


Rosa Say

is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. Her most recent online collaboration effort is JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network.
For more of Rosa’s ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives; you’ll find her index in the left column of www.ManagingWithAloha.com Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Milking it whole, not skim.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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