“Imagination is more important than Knowledge” – Einstein 1879

I’ve pushed forward the importance of self awareness in previous posts, but today I’m more concerned with self actualisation and who do I want to be. I’ve been asked to set five personal objectives to maximise my effectiveness in learning, which involves considering things I’d like to achieve. I’ve just read seven habits of highly effective people by Stephen R Covey and I have used that as a starting point of inspiration.

  • Taking Steven Covey’s ideal that “interdependence is a higher value than independence” (3), I would like to learn how to be more interdependent as I think I could benefit from the synergy from within a team. I’m naturally very independent, so I see this will be a challenge.
  • To take on two completely new challenges this year – Levinthal and March’s proposition of exploitation and exploration within learning. I’d like to do a little bit more of the exploring, as I think you learn best when thrown in at the deep end. Also, I don’t believe you should comfortably sit inside your comfort zone, otherwise you shy away from challenges, where as if you always challenge yourself, it seems the norm.
  • To public speak, pitch and present as much as possible. – this is an area I wish i could improve on always and practice makes perfect. I want to understand why the whole thing terrifies me so much, where in reality I know I’m ok at it and prepare well for it.
  • To keep on reading and learning in the way that I do, head in a book, trying new things, challenging myself, starting projects, developing opinions and being a do-er. But in order to make this truely “effective”, I need to stop being so secretive about my learning. I come from a competitive background and I like to have the upper hand…..this will be to the detriment of the team and isn’t a team player. I need to bring back this knowledge into the team and reap the rewards in the long term.
  • To learn to take days off, put my phone away, turn facebook off and clear my mind – to engage in something I love, for the benefit of the long term learning.

In terms of defining my current status of learning and considering am I effective. I think I’d like to think I was but in reality, I know I’m an all or nothing type girl. I’m either completely in control or out of control and never inbetween. Luckily, I’m most in control! But I have picked up a lot of ineffective learning habits, things like being distracted by technology and my need to learn, can send me off on unrelated tangents. I also sometimes jump into research before having a clear goal of what I’d like to learn or the point of the reading is.

Steven Covey’s book was an empowering revelation and I push everyone to read it. He put forward so many interesting challenges which I really reflected on and considered within my own learning. The first interesting quote that I took to heard is “where we stand depends on where we sit” and it sums up perfectly my learning and this whole experience. I sit in a different place to the others, potentially due to age, motivations, experience but I am ten years older than them so the way we look at situations and tasks is completely different. We must harnass that more as Covey advances, this is not a difficulty, this is a blessing and two interpretations….or due to the amount of people, many more.; if only they were empowered or motivated to contribute.

So an effective learner is……

  • Proactive, full if initiative, recognises ability to make things happen….
  • Decisive – decide or be decided upon, staying till and doing nothing is ineffective.
  • Begin with the end in mind – Now this is something, I will take to heart, clear goals and focus in regards to learning. Should also enhancing my efficiency.
  • Empowered
  • A time manager – makes time to reflect, make decisions, to prioritise and set goals. Time is spent on urgent things AND long term things. As I’ve got older, this has become a crucial routine. I couldn’t function or learn without this process.
  • Interpersonal – win/win and creating a mutual benefit within teams. This a tough one within my current team, but in thinking of the sitting Covey quote, I need to be more understanding and constructive; I need to start giving feedback instead of just receiving is happily. Take responsibility for others learning as well as my own, like I’ve done in previous teams.
  • Seek to understand and then to be understood – This should be our team mantra! Value the differences.
  • Synergise – Trailblazers and pathfinders; hopefully this might happen via our learning. I’d like to think that, I’d love to be proud of the team.
  • Sharpens to saw – Time out, reflecting, resting. Well another challenge and this is my biggest barrier to effective learning and being effective in general. I’m a workaholic. I don’t take breaks, I like to manage multiple projects, I push myself as hard as I can, i set unrealistic targets for myself and i don’t really ever rest. I’m one of those annoying people who struggles to “relax” and hates to sit and watch the TV, because there is so many other amazing things to do and experience. But in the long run, this means that I can overstretch, my productivity can be poor, my motivation can be a difficult one to muster and i can feel frustrated because I “feel” like I’m working so much harder than everyone else. When in reality, it is my choice to do so and I’d actually work a lot better and more effeciently, if i knew when to stop. So, how have a tried to tackle this, well making sure I work alongside my degree, gives me a chance to switch off, getting a good night sleep, always walking to and from anywhere I go – is a crucial switch off time, never working at home – my place to relax and trying to set a realistic work schedule. I might like to work till 12pm every night, but I should stop at about 8 to wind down to be more effective the next day. However, many times, I end up being in library on a day i just can’t focus and stringing it out, where in reality, I need a day off to reflect and rest. The two hours worth of work i have achieved in 12hours, probably wasn’t worth the slog.

I feel the Steven Covey book gave me the empowerment, motivation and reflection to consider carefully my objectives. There are so many more things, as you can probably tell, that I would like to achieve, but I think these are the most important in this instance. Moreover, my imagined version of myself is more motivating than the knowledge I currently hold about myself.


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