Archive for May, 2010

When is the best time to look for evidence of success?

Evaluating at the wrong time will lead us to make a conclusion about our efforts. This can be discouraging. Evaluating continuously can be a little like constructing a corral in front of a moving herd of cats. This would be constantly comparing the end results of our efforts to how we’re doing. This is fine when we know how to proceed towards a goal, but not so great of a strategy when we’re involved in a learning process.

I”m always reminded of this while on the phone with someone who is having problems with the reception on their mobile phone. If you spend your time on a constantly asking if the other person heard you, then you can’t get on with the purpose of the conversation.

I know when I teach people, I can see students often ask the wrong questions of themselves at the wrong time about the results of their learning experiments. They look for results by using evaluators and criteria for success that are not directly related to the STEPS of successes of what they are intending to do. They only evaluate for the end result, which isn’t possible while the skill is being built step by step.

So – for instance – let’s say I’m teaching someone to juggle three balls. It’s most common that a learner doesn’t really know exactly how they use their perceptions to toss a ball from hand to hand until I point it out what is going on as they are doing it successfully with one ball. They take the skill for granted, because they usually learned to toss a ball from their parent or sibling when they were very young. They may do the skill successfully, in spite of misconceptions they have about doing it.

The role of the teacher to point out and reward a learner’s efforts when it results in incremental progress. Learners might not know what successful results look like as the building blocks of a skill are being formed. Someone unfamiliar with this process of building a particular skill step by step will miss crucial successes. They miss success plainly though ignorance. Instead a newbie often mistakenly looks for evidence they CAN recognize, (which is most often merely what they already know!)

Without the help of a teacher, there’s an inherent danger in learning that people may get discouraged and imagine they CAN’T be successful. ask themselves about successful results at different times, Many learners are too eager to wear the hat of evaluation. Doing this at the wrong time results in using their senses to conclude results while still in process.

So, let’s say the question is, “Is what we are doing working the way we intend it?”

If you ask that question before you’ve made a change, you will only see your habitual routines.

If you ask that question too late, you might miss something important that did happen.

If you ask that question AFTER you’ve run an experiment that really involved doing something new, you might notice that something new that just happened.

Even if you ask the question at the right time, you might not notice something new has happened.  You might need perceptual help from a teacher or another perceptual sense or a sensor that can bring out what did happen. This happens mostly because everything is so unfamiliar that you won’t know what is important to help you direct your attention to it.

Unfamiliarity or weirdness is an indicator that something new did happen. Generally, something new happening is a “good” thing, because it means success in freeing previous routines. This is why it’s important to make experimenting safe.

What I mean by using another perceptual sense is to cross-check with your other senses when you ask yourself what happened. What I mean by using a sensor that can bring out what happened is using a recorder of the event, such as a auditory or video recording, or just using a mirror to get another point of view about what is really happening.

If evaluating directly after experimenting and something new did happen, most people will notice a sense of unfamiliarity if it did happen. They may sometimes be able to go with the flow – meaning,  sustaining the doing of what is unfamiliar. Someone would be motivated to continue doing what feels strange because they might recognize it’s working toward their goals. But most people’s routines are too strong to allow this going with the flow of what’s new to happen for very long a period of time. They find sustaining their tolerance for what is unfamiliar to be demanding and challenging…and sort of scary.

Is unfamiliarity fun, scary or what for you? Is there a customary pattern to when you usually evaluate?

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