Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International
1. In notes in your journal, describe what happens as you execute your plan; tell the project story.
2. Tier 1 learning is finding and designing your project; Tier 2 is learning by doing the project; Tier 3 is learning from the experience of doing the project. Tier 4 is learning to progress.
3. This section is about Tier 3. Pay attention to what you learn about the action process—how to do the activity you are in—sculpting, gardening, or nuclear physics.
4. Pay attention to what you learn about yourself and working relationships with others.
5. These notes are about what you are learning from what you are doing; from them you learn how to learn from experience, a powerful SDL method.
6. When people have found the field they want to pursue, their journals often become records of their pursuits and findings.
The 4 Tiers of SDL Learning
By now you should be aware of the four tiers of learning on which SDL is built. Tier three is introduced at this time to emphasize that it is a new way to learn, that is, it is different from the other ways.
Please also note that these 4 tiers are all natural parts of the overall process that underlies this program. Each part enhances the other parts, ands together they make a single powerful process for accomplishment and personal development. Here is a brief summary of the four tiers so you can see the placement of Tier 3:
Tier I. Learning by Preparing: Exploring interests, extending knowledge, creating ideas, envisioning possibilities.
Tier II. Learning by Doing: Conducting activities, developing skills, overcoming obstacles, achieving goals.
Tier III. Learning by Reflecting on Doing: recording project history, analyzing the process employed, reflecting on personal performance, assessing success.
Tier IV. Learning by Moving Forward: Celebrating success. Considering “Where am I now?” Imagining possible futures. Selecting personal and process features to develop. Moving forward.
Tell your project story.
Your project is underway. At least once a week sit down with your journal and tell what has happened so far. Getting your project done is important and a record of what happened is archival. You won’t remember much about it if you leave writing too long or don’t do it at all.
Every activity is an experiment. Scientists carefully record what happens during an experiment. Authors record the human nature revealed in events. Consider your work an experiment, and then examine it as both a scientist and a humanist would.
But just getting it down isn’t the real importance. Something else is going on that you really want to take advantage of: you are learning a lot from the experience. In SDL especially it is important to mine the experience for all that you can learn from it.
Here is an example from Jean’s story:
I’m having a terrible time getting started on this project. I want to start keeping detailed records of all my financial transactions, but I just can’t get started. It’s such a huge commitment. That must be it. I want a complete financial record, but I don’t want the responsibility of keeping it every day, week, or month.
Tell about implementing your plan.
You laid out a plan to follow, but once you started you likely found out that some steps didn’t work and you were forced to change what you were doing. You may have suddenly realized that other steps were needed, or that there was a better way that you hadn’t thought of.
Sometimes the obstacles that you find in your path are so difficult getting past them seems impossible. This story is important to tell. It is loaded with potential for insights.
The computer program for financial record keeping cost a lot more than I thought, but I bought it anyway. When I finally sat down and started working my way through the instruction book, I soon came to a halt. I needed my transaction records, but I didn’t have any. Damn. This task is breeding tasks. Now I have to set up a file system for bills and payments.
Note that Jean is learning a lot about the realities of record keeping. Similar difficulties will be encountered at any level of complexity. In 2008-9, for example, financial institutions collapsed because of loans they made that people could not pay back. Hopefully, they have a record of their story that they can learn from.
Tell about your activity
You are not just implementing a plan, you are also pursuing an activity in a certain field, such as, running, history, or renovation. Recount the experiences you are having with your subject, with understanding it, mastering the skills involved, and overcoming the problems that you encounter.
Finance, money, and numbers are a mystery to me. Keeping records demands order, strict order, and numbers are unforgiving. In the end, you have to be exact. I’m amazed at this computer program though. If I change one number in the scheme, all of the other numbers change to adjust to it. I have files now for utilities, food, rent, travel and entertainment. I keep the files in a rack in the kitchen so I can pop the bills into the right folder when I unpack purchases or open the mail. Amazing. Strange for me.
In your notes, include such observations about your work. Tell what happens, especially successes and failures—yes, failures. They are crucial because they are the events that are richest in clues about how you can most improve, and improvement is our game.
In The Art of Possibility, the Zanders recount teaching their students to celebrate a mistake or failure by raising their hands in the air, smiling, and saying, “How fascinating.” Try it, and then add, “I wonder how that happened?” And then find out.
Errors can be devastating in public places, such as a classroom, at a public meeting, or at work, but this is just you and your journal. So create a new mind-set that looks on mistakes and failures as rich opportunities for improvement that are worth understanding so you can make your next activity much better. Recognizing mistakes does nothing to diminish you. If you don’t make any, you’re likely not challenging yourself enough.
My totals were way off. Either I can’t add or I’m missing something out. My sheet says I have a lot more cash than I have. Well, there it is. I missed out the “Entertainment” column. I have the folder for it, but no column. That’s so typical of me. I hate this stuff, hurry through it, likely thinking of something else. It takes a lot longer to do it twice—or more—so it would be worthwhile to do this right the first time.
Write about yourself
We have been talking about the work and the process, now it’s time to talk about you. We can discover a lot about ourselves just by watching what we say, do, and feel. These aspects are seldom more clearly revealed than when we are taking action to achieve a personal goal. In motion we reveal ourselves.
As you work, keep your eyes on your experience of the project, what you were doing and feeling. Write about them as clearly and honestly as you can. Remember, our goal is to understand in order to improve.
Note your strengths as you work—what you do well. We can improve our performance a lot by recognizing and building on our successes and our strengths.
Recognize the things that don’t go well. It’s not as bad as you might think. Often recognition alone is enough to help us change. Understanding that “when I’m late, people get angry,” can be enough if you see it and make the simple change required to be on time.
Larger problems will be more difficult to solve, but recognition is an important first step. With it you are on your way, and over time you can develop the solution required. In fact, you can start changing on your very next activity.
Dealing with Expectations, Attitudes and Past Events
Our expectations, perspectives, attitudes, and histories profoundly influence how we work. If we expect perfection, every slip will be painful. If we see ourselves as hopeless and helpless with numbers, that will likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we resent the activity because we know “expenditures” will add up to more than “income, ” that will impede our progress, and if we remember embarrassing experiences in Math class, that will impede our work even more.
All of these attitudes have to change if the writer wants to become proficient at keeping a financial record, or at anything else. Such things can keep us from progressing in many aspects of our lives, even though they may no longer be true reflections of who we are.
Review your actions on your project so far. Examine your actions, your thoughts, your memories, and especially your feelings. Then consider the influence they have had on your results. Here is Jean, still trying hard.
I thought that keeping a financial record would be unpleasant and that I would do badly. On the other hand, I saw a financial record as essential—I’m spending too much—and I thought, “I’m not stupid, I can do this with a little perseverance.” Maybe I have the wrong attitude. I hated Math in school and it seems to have carried over to numbers in general. One of my Math teacher said, “A convoy can only travel as fast as it’s slowest ship,” and I was apparently that ship. I was Artsy, so I played the slow ship role and got my strokes from writing and acting. I’ve been carrying around that image for along time.
Seek insight and change:
You now have a great deal of information about you and your activity. What insights do you have about the process you followed and your performance in it? If those insights suggest that change is necessary, what would that change be?
These inner struggles are complex issues. If you feel any discomfort about these—or any other activities in the program—stop and simply move on to the next. Trust your own instincts.
We tie a lot of our energy up in the events and stories left over from our earlier years. Here are some facts about those stories:
* The stories are selected from many other life events.
* The stories are remembered as you experienced them when you were that age.
* The stories about us are often repeated and changed by those around us.
* Stories about us are not who we are, and that’s why it’s so important to know yourself to the core.
If we remember them, the stories likely have a hold on us. That’s why it’s so important to look at the stories we can, see them for what they are and separate ourselves from them.
You are not your stories; you are the person reading this right now. The question is, who is this person and who is this person going to be?
Beyond the slowest ship
What is Jean going to do about it, and what are you going to do about your reflections on action?
I have an awful lot of baggage around Math. It’s like I’ve become a character—the slowest ship--in my own play. I’m dragging myself down. I’m going to do one of those positive interventions here and change that. I can do number stuff, in fact, I pick it up pretty quickly, and if I get focused I can do it well. That’s what the me without stories thinks, and that’s the way it is going to be from now on.
Be sure that you are always helping—not hindering—yourself. Self-sabotage should be the first thing to go, and then any inhibiting thoughts, statements or images. We need to be thinking about strategies and tactics for success.
Learning from experience for life
What you are doing in this activity is learning from experience. Life is rich in experiences, but we often learn little from them. In this activity, however, you have looked at your activity and yourself and drawn from those studies a great deal of knowledge and understanding. This same approach can be applied to any life experience. You may also think about seeking activities that will give you the richest possible experience to study. Learning from experience is the basic form of self-directed learning, and you can do it with great benefits for the rest of your life. It is a natural way to learn.