Archive for May, 2011

Metaphorically Speaking

May 30th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

‘tis nobler is feeling descriptive today:

Police are looking for a male described as being between 18 and 29 years of age, approximately 180cms tall, with a slight build and last seen wearing a black shirt, blue jeans and runners. He is known to be as cunning as a fox, with the demeanour of someone who has found 20 cents after losing $20.  He should not be approached unless you are backed into a corner and have nowhere to go but up.

Some descriptions are close to useless, some use comparisons that add depth and colour while the reviews for others are mixed, speaking metaphorically:

It is easy to describe skilled performance for the obvious elements are known and you just need to list them.  You can describe the way Federer serves, the way Vettel drives or the way Clapton plays the guitar.  Describing is easy, so, so much easier than doing and yet describing and doing are often seen as the same thing.  If you can describe, does this mean that you can also do?

Descriptions sit on the surface of the ‘What World’, outlining what is done at a very general level.  Being readily available but superficial, descriptions don’t detail everything that is performed for you need to explore the ‘How World’ and the ‘Why World’ to get this information.  All of these things come together to form understanding and, combined with direct, effortful experience, produce competence and expertise.

Descriptions may be a starting point but they never take you very far.  But their influence is not necessarily limited as the way you describe something (or the way others describe it to you) can guide your entire effort (or lack thereof).  For (doing) better or for (doing) worse, metaphors are a double-edged sword that could tip the balance either way!

Is learning to drive like falling off a log?  Is umpiring a football game like stealing candy from a baby?  Conversely, is learning to drive like trying to nail jelly to the wall?  Is umpiring a football game like trying to herd cats?

Metaphors are pervasive and influential, yet another example of the framing process.  How do you behave under the influence of descriptions?  Can you learn something through metaphors or do metaphors just affect your learning?

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

May 29th, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

Free-floating planets have finally been detected.

Intelligence isn’t just about how many levels of math courses you’ve taken, how fast you can solve an algorithm, or how many vocabulary words you know that are over 6 characters. It’s about being able to approach a new problem, recognize its important components, and solve it—then take that knowledge gained and put it towards solving the next, more complex problem. It’s about innovation and imagination, and about being able to put that to use to make the world a better

Does a belief in free will influence brain function?

Ockham’s Razor may be useful but it’s not absolute.

Is ‘fittest’ a correlate?  Perhaps it’s actually survival of the most adaptable …..

Top 10 myths about the brain.

Jellyfish Lake, Palau (background  here) though ‘tis nobler immediately thought of a jellyfish trying to find his mate like this guy.

Distance Between Strategy, Motivation And Excuse

May 27th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

A constant theme in ‘tis nobler posts is that of the learning journey, a journey that, for it to be effective, efficient and durable, demands that you must find your own way. Not surprisingly, then, ‘distance’ has featured prominently. It was used as a metaphor for progress and as an important self control strategy (here and here).

The use of ‘distance’ is a way to gain insights into your own behaviour and the ‘distance’ that still lies ahead improves goal adherence. It has also been used to dismiss decision making styles as a helpful framework.

‘tis nobler has covered quite a, um, distance in exploring the concept of ‘distance’, which is central to construal level theory. But that’s another story, a story for, shall we say, further down the track.

There is some recent evidence that ‘social distancing’ – the interpersonal rather than the intrapersonal ‘distance’ or greater interpersonal ‘distances’ (between strangers and friends) – can also assist problem solving and creativity. Add these to the list of ‘distance’ beneficiaries listed above and dealing with the ‘concrete’ – the directly and immediately personal – seems to be on shaky ground. Abstraction can assist, if only because it removes a number of personal distractions that would otherwise apply.  In this song by Brandon Heath, he sings:

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

It doesn’t really matter whether it is ‘Your’ (as intended) or ‘your’ in this chorus, the principle remains. Using ‘distance’ can help in many ways, ways that lead to breakthroughs, solutions and actions.

‘tis nobler wonders whether a ‘distance’ strategy (using the abstract to solve the concrete) gradually evolves into a ‘distance’ motivation (motivated more by the abstract than the concrete) and eventually into a ‘distance’ excuse of only being interested in the abstract. Finding ways to understand the personally concrete is fantastic, using one of these ways as an excuse for avoiding the concrete much, much less so.

You can set your own ‘distances’ between strategies, motivations and excuses. How will you find your own way, how far will you travel and how involved in your journey will you be?

‘Dressed’ For Success

May 25th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

In experiential learning and behavioural change, how do you ‘dress’ for success?  The first clue ‘tis nobler can provide is that the answer to this question has nothing to do with clothes.

The second clue can be found in these Sinead O’Connor lyrics (and the title of the song):

Everyone can see what’s going on

They laugh because they know they’re untouchable

Not because what I said was wrong

Whatever it might bring

I will live with my own policies

I will sleep with a clear conscience

I will sleep in peace

The third clue can be found in some recent research that demonstrates a link between perception and perceptions or how, rightly or wrongly, assessments of ability are affected by appearance.  In assessments of identical (and thus ‘mimed’) performances, musicians who were dressed less appropriately were judged more harshly than their more appropriately attired counterparts – there was a link between apparel and perceived ability.

The fourth clue relates to the catchcry for this site.  It is ‘Effort is essential’ rather than ‘Apparel activates ability’.

In many experiential learning and behavioural change contexts, appearance appears to take precedence over substance.  It is as though looking the part is more important than playing the part, perhaps because playing the part takes more sustained effort than the purchase of the costume.  Appearances can be bought but substance must be earned.

And, if you combine these clues, you realise that you can never ‘dress’ for success; you can, however. ‘dress’ to pretend you’re successful.  Isn’t it better to be tired after effortful practice than be attired as a means of avoiding the effort?


Intentional Protection

May 23rd, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

Can you remember when ‘tis nobler used lines and spaces to compare and contrast habits and skills:

Think of habits as lines and skills as spaces; habits are specific, skills are general.  Habits are towns, skills are continents …….. Lines can exist in space but there is no space in a line.  You can only move along a line; in a space, you can move in any direction you choose.  A specific situation triggers the habit whereas skills operate across situations.  Lines are static, spaces can be dynamic.  The link between situation and habit is explicit and known to the learner; skill learning is implicit in the situation, with the learner often being unaware of what is actually being learnt.

Habits can be notoriously difficult to change as habitual behaviour can be as unthinking as skilled behaviour is automatic.  It’s a deliberately ambiguous question, then: Can you intentionally protect yourself against your habits?

Intentions can influence behaviour.  Given their closer proximity to behaviour, intentions are a more reliable predictor of behaviour than attitudes or (more distant) values and achieve this by closing off (inhibiting) alternatives.  But it’s hard to rely on your good intentions ‘when your head is full of things you can’t mention ….. and you miss so much that requires attention ”:

If the connection between intentions and behaviour is imperfect, can intentions overcome the more ingrained habitual behaviours?  And the answer is ‘Yes’, for there is recent evidence that implementing intentions that are not concordant with habits can reduce the incidence of habitual behaviours (and that this is also achieved through an inhibitory mechanism).  As you should expect, the connection is again imperfect, suggesting that the road away from habits may be paved with good intentions but you might still end up heading towards them!

Even though you intend to move away from your (bad) habits, you might still act habitually because inhibition takes effort – it’s not easy being ‘single-minded’ -and this effort might not be sufficient or might be directed elsewhere.  The intention might only address one element of the habitual behaviour and is swamped by the other elements, it might be rendered impotent by your (negative) emotional state or it might sometimes just not be strong enough.  Intention is important but there are many reasons why it might not be enough.  Still, a positive intention is always a good start.

Intention is not a cure for bad habits – even when you’re attending to what you’re intending – but it is a useful tool in your self-management toolkit.  But a robust toolkit needs more than an intentions implement – how do you intend strengthening your intentions?

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

May 22nd, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

Edge’s 2011 question – What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?  159 thinkers give their answer.

A real life cold case –  the Lazarus File

The loneliest plant in the world,  and here are ten of the strangest trees on Earth.

What will you find if you search the Yale Digital Commons?  Background here.

Positive black swans – producing fantastic ideas, not just good ones.

An excerpt from ‘The Influencing Machine’ that explores the concept of objectivity in the media.

Come wander with me‘ – an intriguing short film.

Preferably Reversible, Actually Not

May 20th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

Can you remember the post (Day Tripper) that referred to figure skaters?  Among other things, it noted:

With equivalent amounts of experience, the better skaters in the group spent almost 50% more time practising more difficult manoeuvres rather than just doing the simpler things over and over again.  It all looked like practice, the quantity of experience was similar but there were significant differences in the quality of that experience…….If you are striving to succeed in anything, you must succeed in continuing to strive.

This is another reinforcement of the central point in Monday’s post that dismissed ‘natural ability’ for experiential learning is ‘never natural, it’s always effortful’.  And yet the temptation to find an easy way out is ever-present; it seems more comforting to ascribe our slow(er) progress to a lack of natural ability than to a lack of effort.  We can, and should act naturally:

But this does not mean that acting naturally can be reversed.  Still, we prefer to believe that acting naturally is reversible – we can naturally act, despite knowing that sustained, engaged effort is needed.  The contrast between preference and requirement was clearly shown in recent research that demonstrated a clear preference for endorsing natural talent.  Professional musicians were asked to assess recorded performances by two musicians, one of whom was described as having natural talent while the other had learned through hard work.  Their ‘methods’ were the only difference – the musical samples were, in fact, identical.

Despite professing the value of hard work, this group preferred the music produced by the naturally gifted ‘player’.  They could not conclude this on the basic of the music itself (which was identical, even though most could not discern this) but on the journey undertaken to produce it.  We cling to a preference for the ‘special’, for the ‘out of the ordinary’, for the ‘extraordinary’; does this mean that our strongest preference may be to leave ourselves an apparently acceptable explanation for our own relative performance?

It is important to act naturally; it is more important to realise that any skilled action does not come naturally.  Naturally, this is difficult to accept for we would always prefer to think that effort is not required.  Effort is essential.

Deliberately Incidental

May 18th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

The previous post dismissed the concept of natural ability as a predictor of experiential learning success and emphasised the central role of effortful practice, sometimes called deliberate practice.  The connection(s) between skill, practice and learning must be of sufficient and sustained strength; if not, your role reduces to that of passenger, someone along for the ride while others take responsibility and make the effort.

But there are passengers and then there are ‘passengers’.  There aren’t, however, learning opportunities and ‘learning opportunities’, for everything presents as a real learning opportunity (and so you should never think that all learning has to be deliberate for it can also be incidental.  As a deliberate learning strategy, it can also be deliberately incidental).  Evidence indicates that a combination of passive ‘passenger’ and learning opportunity can still be beneficial.

The value of expanding direct learning with vicarious experiences has been discussed previously by ‘tis nobler (here and here), although the antagonism between vicarious experience and self control has also been noted (here).  Both effectiveness and efficiency will benefit when greater effort is invested in direct learning; similarly, there will be further (perhaps smaller) benefits when direct learning is complemented by participation in vicarious experiences (again, perhaps, proportional to the level of engagement).  Experiential learning is ‘moreish’ – more effort, more engagement, more direct and indirect experiences all combine to generate more effective and efficient learning.  Can ‘lessish’ also be ‘moreish’ for learning?

It may be that direct and vicarious can be reinforced even more by passive, incidental experience (although the evidence is limited to the type of task studied at this stage).  It makes sense, though, that you can still learn when you’re in less obvious learning situations, you can still learn when you are a passive ‘passenger’.  In these circumstances, you may be unaware of your learning but you are still soaking up the ‘lessons’ the real world is presenting:

Experiential learning can happen in every place and at any time.  Effectiveness and efficiency vary as a function of direct, vicarious and passive experience but all three types can add value.  You can learn while you do, you can learn from what others have done and you can still learn when you don’t think you’re doing anything.

There is no one way and there is no right way.  There is just your way.  Find it.  Directly and incidentally, this is a good thing on which to deliberate!


Never Natural

May 16th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

Let’s start with a brief quote (you can read the full report here):

The commonly held but empirically unsupported notion that some uniquely ‘‘talented’’ individuals can attain superior performance in a given domain without much practice appears to be a destructive myth that could discourage people from investing the necessary efforts to reach expert levels of performance.

It is true that, for certain pursuits, fundamental physical characteristics such as body size and height can overpower the effects of sustained and effortful practice.  But there are always exceptions – just ask Spud Webb or Mugsy Bogues.  Apart from size and height, a review of the evidence indicates that necessary physical adaptations can be achieved through appropriate practice.  For most things, size is not a reason for the sighs that accompany discouragement and despondency!

Does this suggest that the only limiting factor in your experiential learning is the effort you are able to invest and sustain?

Believing that others are ‘better’ because they are ‘naturals’ usually undersells their efforts and certainly sells yourself short.  Natural ability may be a convenient excuse but it is never a constraint.  This is not to suggest that the learning ‘playing field’ is level for all, far from it in fact.  Opportunities, resources and support can be very unevenly distributed but these things, in the same way as ‘natural ability’, don’t determine your learning outcomes.  If you apply yourself, you might find the formula for success:

In your learning journey, you don’t transcribe the formulae for they are implicit in the understanding you develop through experience and reflected in the internal models, patterns and representations you use to perform effectively and efficiently.  These critically important elements do NOT come naturally!

It might be natural to assume that not being a ‘natural’ is an insurmountable obstacle.  But it isn’t an obstacle, it is an illusion.  It is an illusion that can be shattered by effort.

It’s never natural; it’s always effortful.

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

May 15th, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

May 4, 2011: Einstein was right again. There is a space-time vortex around Earth, and its shape precisely matches the predictions of Einstein’s theory of gravity

Contagious obesity.

Great views out of airplane windows.

1.3 billion tonnes annually – what a waste of food!

Best visual illusion of 2011.

Mathematical intimidation – a common feature of many applied research projects in ‘tis nobler’s view– in which mathematics is used to intimidate rather than illuminate.

True Loves – the latest music video from Hooray For Earth.

Self Serving Attribution

May 13th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

Things didn’t go well for me.  It’s not me, though, it’s you.  And if it’s not you, then it must be them.  If it wasn’t for you, or possibly them – I’m still not sure about you -, things would have gone much, much better.  Why do you, or they, do this to me?  It is clearly someone’s fault, either yours or theirs.  Probably yours, unless it’s theirs, of course.  Come to think of it (in a biased way), they did this to me the last time things didn’t go well.  Now I see what’s going on, they’ve got it in for me.

Things did go well for me.  Well done me!  It was a creditable performance for which I deserve all the credit.  You didn’t lift a finger and they were totally irrelevant.  Thanks for nothing for that is exactly what you and they did.  Nothing!  It all came down to me and me alone, and I came through.  I deserve everything I get, for what I get is because of how well I did.  I have to accept full responsibility for this great result as I am fully responsible for it.

Taking responsibility for the good while ‘blaming’ others for the bad is another type of cognitive bias – the self serving bias.  Can you identify examples in your own learning journey?  But the bias doesn’t stop there because we can be biased in our application, turning things upside-down:

Things didn’t go well for you.  It’s you, not me or them.  It’s all down to you.

Things did go well for you.  It’s not you, it’s due to me, or them, or dumb luck, or just being in the right place at the right time.  It’s anything but you.

The other side of the self serving bias is the (fundamental) attribution bias; when it’s someone other than me, good outcomes are produced by external factors while poor outcomes are entirely their fault.  It’s not, however, an assessment process that should be determined by the outcome (as in these biases) but by the nature of the process.  Otherwise, you do unto others the opposite of what you do unto yourself.  And whatever you do may have little overlap with the available evidence.

Reflective thinking is a core strategy in monitoring, reviewing and directing your learning efforts and it may not be helpful to simply say that you must be honest with yourself; after all, honesty is such a lonely word:

Lonely or not, honesty can be a value-laden and ‘flexible’ concept.  Perhaps it’s better to think in terms of validity or congruence – how closely your assessments align with the objective evidence, starting with the things that are beyond dispute.  As always, it’s much easier to find excuses than it is to uncover reasons.  Self assessment is a difficult task, one which most do inconsistently, but it is necessary and important.  The default position might be that you can fool yourself, and diminish the efforts of others, all of the time, but you can progressively avoid this position through effort and evidence.

What Am I Saying?

May 11th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

It is important to think of experiential learning and behavioural change as bottomless – you can never delve too deeply for learning is lifelong and change constantly presents new challenges.  Take a concept like self control that can be ‘dismissed’ superficially and semantically.  After all, it is just controlling yourself!  ‘tis nobler has unpacked self-control in various posts:

“There is an inverse relationship between self control and procrastination – the more you exert self control, the less of a procrastinator you’ll be.  It can also be possible to ‘import’ self control from other aspects of your life and apply it to your learning journey; if it exists somewhere, you can use it here”.

And then ‘tis nobler wrote, “There is evidence that indicates that high discount rates – the ‘now, now, now’ phenomenon – are associated with reduced self control.  Immediate gratification is seen as much more valuable than something more valuable for which you must wait”.  It might help maintain self control by recognising that “Perhaps this evidence indicates that it can also be good to go the other way, exaggerating the cost of temptations in order to maintain self control and (longer term) goal adherence”.

And it is possible to learn self control – “And the point of this post is that there is evidence to indicate that there is a practice effect for self-control.  Implementing self control behaviours, rather than just coping through willpower or suppressing the ‘objects of your desires’, does lead to more effective self control”.

And now we turn to some research that emphasises the role of your inner voice.  Telling yourself what or what not to do is a popular cultural theme and it seems that it can be successful.  The evidence is indirect; suppressing your inner voice by requiring other verbal tasks while completing a primary task in which impulse control is important leads to more impulsive behaviour than when the secondary task is non-verbal.  Your inner voice is lost in the din, and impulsiveness  increases.

Think of the (inner) verbal interference you may experience during experiential learning and behavioural change – I’m not sure I can do this, just a little (lapse) won’t hurt, how is this going to turn out? – and it is little wonder that your inner voice struggles to keep you heading in the right direction for it is drowned out by doubts and short-term decisions.

But your inner voice usually does know the real answers and, like your oldest friend, just trust the voice within:

In self control, it helps to silence the noise in your head so that you can hear what your inner voice is saying.  This is easier said than done but, as noted above, there is a practice effect in self control; try repeating this mantra:

What am I saying?  What am I saying?  What am I saying?  What am I saying?

Too Busy?

May 9th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

‘tis nobler has too many things on the go.  ‘tis nobler will try to get around to it but ‘tis nobler can’t give any promises.  There aren’t enough hours in the day.   Busy, busy, busy.  Sorry, ‘tis nobler hasn’t started on that either yet.  ‘tis nobler has been meaning to do that for a while but, well, you know how things are.

Things are busy.  And things don’t get done, which is understandable given how busy things are.  Has ‘tis nobler mentioned how busy things are?  Yes?  ‘tis nobler must have been too busy to notice mentioning how busy things are.

Is there a better excuse for not doing things than ‘being busy’?  Everybody understands it, everybody experiences it, everybody usually accepts it.  Not doing things because you are too busy seems reasonable, except that the evidence suggests that you should be unable to use ‘being busy’ as a reason.  And thus it reduces to just another excuse, one of many avoidance strategies.

While the evidence comes from school settings, it indicated that those who started assignments earlier performed better than those who delayed.  More interestingly, it suggested that those who were busier started earlier.  Perhaps, most of the time, ‘too busy’ is a convenient misrepresentation.  In ‘Many the miles’, Sara Bareilles sings that there are ‘too many things I haven’t done yet … can’t waste the day wishing it’d slow down ….”:

Excuses can’t be abolished, only minimised; forgiving and moving on is much better than festering and staying stuck.  In ‘Forgiving’, ‘tis nobler wrote:

Putting a missed opportunity behind you by forgiving yourself for missing it and focussing fully on acting on the next opportunity is a way to both overcome procrastination and improve subsequent performance through better preparation.  Alexander Pope wrote:

To err is human; to forgive, divine.

Respectfully, ‘tis nobler writes:

To err while learning is human and to procrastinate is commonplace, to practise and to forgive yourself for not practising reduces both error and procrastination and that’s divine.

Regardless of what you do, you’ll have your reasons, even if these reasons are nothing more than excuses.  Except for the times when you really are too busy, you are never too busy.  Can you recognise the difference between too busy and ‘too busy’, between reasons and excuses?  You’re not too busy to start thinking this through right now!

Slow Down, It’s Sunday

May 8th, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

You can discover new life-forms in unlikely places!

Voyager has almost left the solar system!

“If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? Eleven scientists take up the challenge.

Turn the trolley or push the fat man?

How old are you on other planets?

This had ‘tis nobler in fits of laughter!

A beautiful video of the sun, sky and stars, Canary Islands.

Outside The Chunks

May 6th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

Moving from novice to experienced status involves moving from bits to chunks, from pieces to patterns.  It’s incorrect to think that you just get faster at handling the bits and pieces for it is the ways in which you compile larger, more sophisticated patterns from all of the bits that is a true sign of experiential learning.  Whether you think of ‘bigger picture’, ‘mental model’, ‘forest not trees’, ‘holistic assessments’ or ‘internalised representations’, the process is the same.  As a direct consequence of experience, your way of seeing the world around you changes.

And other things change as well.  You move from serial (from bit to bit to bit) to parallel (multitasking) processing of information, you move from dealing with objects to dealing with meaning and you move from a rudimentary understanding (perhaps comprising just a few of the available bits) to deeper, more valid and validated understanding of how your immediate ‘learning’ world works.  There are implications for memory, workload and processing; ‘tis nobler hopes you get the (bigger) picture.

You move from trying to make sense of the jumble of jigsaw pieces to seeing the completed puzzle.  As importantly, you sense what the current puzzle means for you and how you should respond.  And then the current puzzle changes (something that you may already have anticipated for the availability of patterns gives you the ability to anticipate rather than just react) and you respond in a timely and fluent way.

But all patterns have outliers – novel elements – and limits; they can be both specifically different and generally the same and they are specifically general.  The former represents the balance between novelty and similarity; with increasing experience, the balance tends more and more towards similarity.  The latter indicates that patterns are not necessarily transferable to other activities (compare Michael Jordan’s basketball and baseball careers) and may actually be counterproductive.

Imagine being transported to a place where your patterns are at odds with the world around you and little makes sense.  While things look sort of the same, they are very different in fundamental ways.  And then you find a situation in which your patterns apply and things just ‘click’:

Practice promotes patterns and patterns promote efficiency.  But patterns aren’t a panacea for they might contain the seeds of their own irrelevance – the little bits that don’t fit and that might be overlooked – or they might not be as applicable to other areas as you might think.  And the more you (effectively) apply your patterns in one area, the less applicable they will become to other, unrelated applications.

In experiential learning, you develop the chunks through practice but you can never rely on just applying the chunks.  Chunks will contain novel chinks in your ‘chunk armour’ and, when you take on new challenges, other forms of experiential learning, you’ll have to think outside the chunks you already possess. Think through what the relationships between patterns and performance might be.

Able Yet Unable

May 4th, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

It’s too narrow to think that experiential learning is about the development of ability.  For many life skills, those learned and refined through experience, ability is often much less important than other factors that affect your specific performance and your general behaviour.

Many are ‘able yet unable’ – they have the ability to do something and yet they are actually unable to do it consistently.  Sometimes ‘ the unable’ is produced by doubts, sometimes it’s produced by decisions and at other times it’s produced by distractions.  What else is capable of producing ‘the unable’ in your performance?

And so a way (of many possible ways) must be found to reproduce the value of your learning and keep ‘the unable’ at bay.  There is evidence that the value of your learning can be sustained by your values or, to be precise, affirmation of your values.  Essentially, if people reinforce the fundamental things that are important to them, this effort can act to strengthen ‘the able’ and push ‘the unable’ away.

The important thing to note is that this affirmation must be relevant at a personal level.  There is little point in saying ‘learning is important’, ‘people should have more tolerance’, ‘money is not the only motivation’ or ‘tomorrow will be better than today’.  Such sentiments often last no longer than their utterance and are almost entirely disconnected from the learning and change challenges that you are confronting.  This is why, when you want to stand strong, ‘tis nobler has changed the lyrics in this Wendy Matthews song:

“I’ll pick myself up, and turn myself ‘round

I’ll leave myself standing strong on solid ground

To save myself from these, these shifting sands

To join the Earth right here where I stand”

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It might seem strange to say but ‘able’ is not always necessary to be ‘able’, and the clue that ’tis nobler will provide is that the explanation can be found in self-management practices.  Whether it is or isn’t necessary, ‘able’ is never sufficient; the social proof for this is found in the many examples of ‘able yet unable’ that you encounter on a daily basis.

Whenever ‘the unable’ looms into view, remind yourself that value can be protected by values.  Stand strong and find your own way.


Who Do You Think You Are?

May 2nd, 2011 | Specific | 0 Comments

‘Who do you think you are’ is a British television program, with international adaptations, that explores the family history of invited celebrity guests.  The show taps into the desire many people have to uncover and understand where they have come from in order to better answer the question, “Who Am I”?

The question – who am I? – deals with self-image, and this concept potentially affects experiential learning and behavioural change in many ways.  This is often construed in negative ways, yet it need not be for ‘potentially’ does not mean ‘inevitably’.  Neither does ‘affects’ mean limit, constrain or degrade; indeed, ‘affects’ can be positive and constructive.

Thirdly, self-image does not have a one-way relationship with learning and change for self-image is mutable, able to be changed through your learning and change experiences.  Remember, what you do tells me more about the situation you are in than who you are.

And yet many learning journeys are adversely influenced by self-image – ‘I can’t do this sort of thing, I’m not going to succeed at this, I’m not good enough, I’m hopeless, I’m hapless’.  Progress is stifled, effort is curtailed and interest is lost.  There is an element of self-verification at work in which we live up to our own expectations.

Research findings indicate that the effect of self-image on a specific behaviour is generally small, although it seems to have more explanatory power than some (assumed to be more important) alternatives.  That’s the good news.  The ‘bad’ news is that the effect may be cumulative; over time, self-image may become a progressively more important determinant.  Living up to your own expectations becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, an outcome that is increasingly resistant to change.  Fixed and inflexible equates to failure; it’s better to always wonder ‘Who Am I”?, for you remain a work in progress:

When you think of the effect ‘Your Self’ has on your learning and behavioural change, do you think small, flexible, positive and reversible?  For you, what is the relationship between how you think, what you do and who you think you are?


Slow Down, It’s Sunday

May 1st, 2011 | Related | 0 Comments

Every Sunday, ’tis nobler presents seven things that you may find inspiring, intriguing and informative.  Enjoy!

Making a 2012 Audi A7, out of paper!

The perils of metaphorical thinking.

We need to start again thinking about our hybrid status: as pieces of matter subject to the laws of physics, as organisms subject to the laws of biology, and as people who have a complex sense of themselves, who narrate and lead their lives, and who are capable of thinking thoughts like these.

Re-defining the concept of time.

Now ‘tis nobler understands superconductivity – thanks flash mob!

The evolution of language.

A great video on how they make their magazine (sort of).