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In my element helping you be in yours

What would you advise 16 year olds about careers

Every experience good or bad has a value (if you learn from it – and anyone can decide to do that for themselves) – Jim Rohn suggested most of your learning happens after you leave school.

Experience of the past is no guarantee of being right in the future – so don’t worry about loud voices, or voices that seem certain (Bertrand Russell said ‘the problem with the world is that the wise are full of doubt, the stupid full of certainty’) – not knowing opens up a chance to learn.

The things that are your normal experience have a value – no other generation grew up digital natives, with social media (good & bad), with global travel and cross cultural interaction being normal. This is why organizations are reverse mentoring (older people and younger people helping each other from their own experience).

Others haven’t grown up in your environment, so weigh up comments from people especially when they seem to judge you, because they probably don’t understand your world. Decide for yourself what has merit and helps and what doesn’t.

No one know your potential (not even you) – (I read that somewhere – I think from Milton Erickson again)

Value your own experiences, learn, grow and bring your value to help others.

[The key idea is to find out what’s valuable from your experience and being that to help others, while learning all the time to become more valuable – added here]

(Originally a reply to a request for ideas from Anthony Costigan on LinkedIn)


A confession…

So, a confession.

Every time I see “reinforce the learning” as a concept I think, lazy thinking.

It doesn’t make sense.

Would you, or anyone you know like to be ‘reinforced?’

Dale Carnegie said:

“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”

If learning has to be ‘reinforced’ the real problem is, the learning didn’t convince you.

‘Reinforcement’ is a hangover from a different age based on behavioral psychology.

The assumption is that a ‘right behaviour’ exists, the learning designer assumes they know what that is, and worse, that other behaviours are ‘wrong.’

Does this sound like what a learning experience should be?

If your life is enhanced by learning something, a musical instrument, a sport, a presentation skill, how to communicate……’ll practice it, and you’ll even enjoy practicing it, because it enhances your life, and you want to do it.

There’s only what works for you, and what doesn’t work for you.

What you do works already.

If you experience something that works BETTER FOR YOU, you do it, or practice it until it works, no ‘reinforcement’ needed.

We should drop reinforcement as an idea and get better at providing better choices for YOU, and YOU CHOOSE better options for YOU.

(Milton H. Erickson influenced this post)

[first published on LinkedIn]

Mans search for meaning

Highly recommend Viktor Franks’s ‘Mans Search for Meaning’

Here’s a doodle I drew to remind us of the importance of purpose…..

Negotiating? Never Split the Difference by former FBI negotiator @VossNegotiations #Sketchnotes #Summary

What if a negotiation is a dance, not a war – changing the metaphor changes the game. #sketchnotes#MetaphorsOfMovement by @andrewtaustin

Thought for the day….

Hat tip to Erickson Coaching

The Walk From No To Yes – William Ury #Sketchnotes #TedTalks

When you’re angry you’ll give the best speech you’ll ever regret…

Why ‘Reinforcing Change’ won’t work (and what will)

John, a manager wants to make a change.  He wants his people to start using a new software program, and stop using an old one.  John explains to his team:

‘This program will make your life easier, save you time, and it’s easy to use.  Here is an e-learning explaining how to use it, let me know if you have any questions’

Johns team, have a look at the e-learning, and they understand that John wants them to do it, they have a look at the e-learning and quickly get bored, and rapidly switch to watching YouTube videos of dancing penguins.

When John is walking around the office, everyone has the new program open, but when he is not looking they continue to do what they’ve always done, using the old system.

John decides that he needs to ‘reinforce the change,’ so he sits besides the team members one by one and demonstrates the behaviour expected, and re-iterates that he expects to see this behaviour in the future.

Obviously this doesn’t work either and here is why.


I believe there is a fundamental flaw with the premise to ‘reinforce change’ or ‘reinforce learning’ and that this flaw is an excuse to not look at ourselves as leaders, change agents or learning designers. Simply put.

Did John make people want to do it?

For you, for me, or for anyone to learn, or to practice what we’ve learned, we need to want to do it.  The idea of reinforcement comes in because the initial approach to change only looked at the behaviour – the what needs to change, and failed to look at why this change would be better, from the point of view of the participant or the learner. 

Milton Erickson, the famous psychologist, was a master of helping people make changes. Erickson had a basic premise, which is that, when people experience a better option, they will invariably go for the better option.

If the option looks like it makes no difference, or it is not clearly a better option, then why would I as a learner or someone who is part of a change management program want to take it, instead of doing what I am already doing?

We, you and I, as leaders, or learning designers, or change managers need to work harder with people to create an environment that respects people, that respects what they do already works, and that they already have an intelligent approach.

We need to ask ourselves is what we are proposing REALLY a better option.

‘Reinforcing learning’ assumes that the problem is with the learner or participant who is refusing to change (for whatever reason).  I think that the problem is with us, with our presentation of the options, or providing the experience of a better option.

It is worth considering questions like:

Why would someone want to do it, given what they do already works?

How can I show better options than are there already?

How can we work together to make some better options we can own together?

You might be wondering why the photograph above

Plants simply grow in the right environment. People are the same.


Tell us what life has taught you #Sketchnotes

There’s nothing new under the sun

Dale Carnegie’s ‘Effective Public Speaking’ contains a lot of insights still relevant today.

My #Sketchnote summary is attached – and having trained hundreds of people in various aspects of presentation skills I still found it interesting. Some examples include:

Fear prevents people from doing it

Practice reduces fear

Be your authentic self and reflect on what life has taught you, and connect this to what is relevant for the audience.

Identifying insights from particular incidents and relating the story with enthusiasm, a sense of suspense and with vivid details.

The Gandalf of presentations sharing his magic. 

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