It's a cold, early spring Sunday in Boston, and I'm on my way to breakfast with an old friend who's in town for a conference. Passing the central branch of the Boston Public Library, I notice names of great scientists carved into the stone facing on its east side. I recognize all but one, and I think, "Cuvier…who is that?"
Apparently I have some things to learn about the history of science. I make a mental note, and continue my walk.
But now I'm thinking about how much there is to learn, and how little time most of us have to dedicate to learning. I'm not thinking here about the latest news, or job-related technology; rather, learning about how things came to be, or where things are, or where we're headed, or any of the big questions we struggle with as a species.
Only the fortunate few have the time or energy to read voraciously, or to take courses for enjoyment. If you've been missing the thrill of learning something new, here are some suggestions for finding it once again.
First, you'll want resources. Here are three:
- If you encounter a term, name, or concept you don't understand, ask the people around you what they know. You'll get some blank stares and misinformation, but you'll also get leads to paths that will resolve the puzzle.
- The Web
- The World Wide Web is a little more authoritative than most people are, and I can usually find the answers to my questions with a few searches. Use your favorite search engine or Wikipedia.
- Dictionary, encyclopedia, atlas, globe, and star charts
- How much there is to learn,
and how little time most of us
have to dedicate to learning!
- A good dictionary is great for brief explanations. Encyclopedias are the next step. You'll want an atlas for graphical geography, and a globe (or a good two-dimensional representation) because the earth isn't flat. And don't forget the sky. The Web can provide all of these.
Next, you need sources of questions — practices that stir your brain. Here are three.
- Randomly peruse your resources
- Spend five minutes a day just looking at random entries in your dictionary or encyclopedia, or at parts of the atlas, globe, or star charts. Questions will pop like popcorn.
- Notice what's around you
- I noticed the name "Cuvier" for the first time, even though I've walked past the library hundreds of times. Noticing stirs your brain.
- Notice what isn't
- Ask yourself, 'Why isn't X here?' For instance, some plants tend not to thrive in sunny spots. Why not?
Perhaps you're wondering where you'll find the energy for these things. Probably more of us think we're maxed out than are actually maxed out, but if you really do feel a thrill when you learn something new, the learning might actually give you energy. And when that happens, you can ask yourself, 'Why is that?' Top Next Issue
Love the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- There Is No Rumor Mill
- Rumors about organizational intentions or expectations can depress productivity. Even when they're factually
false, rumors can be so powerful that they sometimes produce the results they predict. How can we manage
- Dealing with Negative Progress
- Many project emergencies are actually the result of setbacks — negative progress. Sometimes these
mishaps are unavoidable, but often they're the result of patterns of organizational culture. How can
we reduce the incidence of setbacks?
- Completism is the desire to create or acquire a complete set of something. In our personal lives, it
drives collectors to pay high prices for rare items that "complete the set." In business it
drives us to squander our resources in surprising ways.
- Just Make It Happen
- Many idolize the no-nonsense manager who says, "I don't want to hear excuses, just make it happen."
We associate that stance with strong leadership. Sometimes, though, it's little more than abuse motivated
by ambition or ignorance — or both.
- The Goal Is Not the Path
- Sometimes, when reaching a goal is more difficult than we thought at first, instead of searching for
another way to get there, we adjust the goal. There are alternatives.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming August 21: Perfectionism and Avoidance
- Avoiding tasks we regard as unpleasant, boring, or intimidating is a pattern known as procrastination. Perfectionism is another pattern. The interplay between the two makes intervention a bit tricky. Available here and by RSS on August 21.
- And on August 28: Playing at Work
- Eight hours a day — usually more — of meetings, phone calls, reading and writing email and text messages, briefing others or being briefed, is enough to drive anyone around the bend. To re-energize, to clarify one's perspective, and to restore creative capacity, play is essential. Play at work, I mean. Available here and by RSS on August 28.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership
- On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached
the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the
race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical
drama, why this happened is interesting enough. But to organizational leaders, business analysts, project
sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. We'll use the history of this event to explore
lessons in leadership and its application to organizational efforts. A fascinating and refreshing look
at leadership from the vantage point of history. Read
more about this program. Here's a date for this program:
- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio
44017: November 7,
Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute.
- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio 44017: November 7, Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.