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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own actions. If you're looking around for some New Year's resolutions to make, here are some ideas,
in this Part I of a little catalog of things we do that help waste our time.
- Dealing with Deadlock
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to go around them, we find more obstacles. How do we get stuck? And how can we get unstuck?
- Changing the Subject: II
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often augmented with video or graphics. Delivering these virtual presentations effectively requires
an approach tailored to the medium.
- Sixteen Overload Haiku
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 13: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: I
- To take the risks that learning and practicing new ways require, we all need a sense that trial-and-error approaches are safe. Organizations seeking to improve processes would do well to begin by assessing their level of psychological safety. Available here and by RSS on December 13.
- And on December 20: Contrary Indicators of Psychological Safety: II
- When we begin using new tools or processes, we make mistakes. Practice is the cure, but practice can be scary if the grace period for early mistakes is too short. For teams adopting new methods, psychological safety is a fundamental component of success. Available here and by RSS on December 20.
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