Have you ever seen an airplane-related disaster in an in-flight movie? I doubt you'll see Snakes on a Plane on your next flight to LA. The criteria the airlines use for selecting onboard film entertainment probably eliminate anything that might make passengers uneasy.
Relying on others to choose your onboard entertainment restricts your film choices to meet criteria set by others. The airlines' goal is not merely to entertain — they want to entertain without the risk of creating anxiety or fear in some passengers. Even if you personally wouldn't experience anxiety from watching Snakes on a Plane, on a plane, people who don't know you are making the choice for you. And even if they did know you, they would still be concerned about other passengers.
As it is with entertainments, so it is with learning. Most of us learn from the stream of knowledge that comes our way by happenstance. Unless you take charge of your own learning, what you learn might be determined by the biases and preferences of others. Here are some examples, with suggestions for taking charge.
- Mass media
- Broadcasting, film, newspapers, magazines, and books provide most of the curriculum of our own personal learning. Revenue goals certainly influence the content decisions of media organizations, and for most of these outlets, achieving balance in your own personal education is not a goal.
- But with some effort, you can get balanced, provocative content from mass media. Avoid scandal sheets and exploiters of incendiary or titillating topics, because their primary focus is revenue. Do you seek unusual sources with clear records of achievement? Do your mass media sources regularly set exemplary educational standards?
- Friends, relations, and acquaintances
- In conversations with people in our immediate social circles, we exchange what we've learned elsewhere, occasionally delivering original thoughts. But few of us actually seek connection with people for their ability to present provocative ideas.
- You can't Do you seek connection
with people who can set
your brain in motion?do much about choosing your relatives, but you can choose friends and acquaintances. Do you seek connection with people who can set your brain in motion?
- Employers and certification organizations
- When employers and certification organizations consider what they would like you to learn, they tend to emphasize their own near term needs — this year's technologies, or the next couple of years at most. But your career lasts longer than that, and your own need for income and stimulation have a more distant time horizon.
- When you use employer resources to fund your learning, and when you seek professional certifications, do you set objectives that produce lasting value? Neglecting your long-term goals can produce a storehouse of knowledge with relatively short shelf life.
To gain the learning advantages you want and need, select at least a few sources that nobody has screened for you, and that nobody has recommended. That can be scary. Be certain that you're scared enough. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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- What makes a great team? What traits do you value in teammates? Project teams can learn a lot from the
latest thinking about designing teams for extended space exploration.
- Self-Serving Bias in Organizations
- We all want to believe that we can rely on the good judgment of decision makers when they make decisions
that affect organizational performance. But they're human, and they are therefore subject to a cognitive
bias known as self-serving bias. Here's a look at what can happen.
- How We Waste Time: I
- Time is the one workplace resource that's evenly distributed. Everyone gets exactly the same share,
but some use it more wisely than others. Here's Part I of a little catalog of ways we waste time.
- Wacky Words of Wisdom: VI
- Adages, aphorisms, and "words of wisdom" seem valid often enough that we accept them as universal
and permanent. Most aren't. Here's Part VI of a collection of widely held beliefs that can be misleading
- Virtual Interviews: II
- The pandemic has made face-to-face job interviews less important. And so we must now also master virtual
interviews, and that requires understanding the effects of the attendance list, video presence, and
the technologies of staging, lighting, and makeup.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 7: Reaching Agreements in Technological Contexts
- Reaching consensus in technological contexts presents special challenges. Problems can arise from interactions between the technological elements of the issue at hand, and the social dynamics of the group addressing that issue. Here are three examples. Available here and by RSS on December 7.
- And on December 14: Straw Man Variants
- The straw man fallacy is a famous rhetorical fallacy. Using it distorts debate and can lead groups to reach faulty conclusions. It's ad readily recognized, but it has some variants that are more difficult to spot. When unnoticed, trouble looms. Available here and by RSS on December 14.
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