One month on…..A reflection

One month into this course and what have I learnt so far? I’ve learnt a lot, I’m a self-confessed learning addict. My starting block was the re-iteration of the importance of self-awareness. It is something that has come up over and over again within the literature and Hills’- Learning in Teams. How can you improve or be aware of the impact of your behaviour, if you aren’t aware of who you are and how you react. A concept that is only being realised in my late twenties, as I actually have posed those awkward questions to myself or challenged my actions or reactions in a certain situation. Moreover, I’ve learnt the importance of identifying and being aware of others. Seeking out mutual win/win situations and solutions, where both parties win. This can only be achieved by being aware of what you want and who you are, coupled with an awareness of the other person and being aware of their wants and needs. A win/win symbiotic relationship can be the key to success, passed on exploitation and the willingness to explore together.  Steven Covey advocates this method to team learning within his book “seven habits of highly effective people”.

But the challenge is, to gain a win/win situation and people parties have to be engaged in the process. So, how to do I go about that!? I want to go about changing my focus from seeing our differences, such as age as a weakness and as a stumbling block and something to be exploited.

As I’ve used a lot of these personality questionnaires, competencies questionnaires and business profiles, I am able to see the progression since I first took them. Unlike the others, who comment about the irrelevance of them, I see the value and I seek out the research behind it in order to understand. Areas that I was once oblivious to, I’ve worked hard to understand where they stem from, knowing when I will react in a certain way and controlling them. I’ve also learnt how to build on the good things, exploiting my strengths. As an introvert over the years, I’ve burst out of my shell and I see this course and this progression as a continuation of that. This “Learning in Terms” module compliments the “personal effectiveness”, which equally facilitate challenging yourself and learning the theory behind your own behaviour. So a key learning point here has been my ability to change. Do not accept the static and I don’t. Using the “this is the way I am” excuse is, as always, unproductive and uncompromising.

This opportunity here isn’t something that occurs in everyday life. Challenging yourself, learning to accept yourself and wanting to change takes a lot of guts. It is very easy to remain blissfully ignorant and refuse to be accountable for my own behaviours and learning. The truest lesson of University, is the realisation that, the lecturer isn’t responsible for your learning, for your grades, they are still researching and learning themselves, they are responsible for their own learning, which they bring back and deliver to us. We are responsible for our own learning, getting the best grades, going out there and making things happen. It is empowering but of course daunting. I’m always struck by the overwhelming fear that a. I can never learn everything. B. Things that I want to know, I just can’t learn all at once.

I’ve also gained a greater awareness of where I am now in terms of my learning. As someone who is commented on for their youthful appearance (I’m 28) and look much younger, people have often commented that it is when I open my mouth or react to something I show my age.  This is true with my learning; I’m a completely different learner to ten years ago and I’m sure I’ll evolve into the future.  I’ve had the chance to
experiment with a variety of learning styles now, especially with being away from a school classroom for so long. I’m much more aware of what works for me and the processes I need to go through, in order to learn most effectively.  I’ve also as a mature student, made the decision to return to education, consequently my drive and want to learn is different to someone from school. I consider I have focus and drive.

But, my biggest learning outcome so far, has been the idea that learning in team within a shared environment IS in fact beneficial. I’ve always been close minded and sceptical to it. Learning has always been an isolated activity or that is how I’d perceived it to be. My personal processes of learning go on in my head first, thinking, challenging, understanding, exploring, before I then express them out loud. But, with my recent experience and successes within teams, I’ve learnt the strength, the power and opportunities are in numbers. I’ve learnt that if I stick at it, learning within a team actually compliments my overall learning experience. I can be rigid, close minded and single minded within my own opinions and objectives if really passionate about things. I can sometimes be far too fixated on processes and details. Learning in teams gives me that push to listen to others, explore their ideas, try new ways of working, that I just would never be open to on my own, appreciate others learning style and in line with Steven Covey’s  mantra from Seven Habits of Highly effective people, “seek to understand before being understood”. I have a lot to learn from others and they can learn from me.

The people here around me, should not be underestimated, even though I don’t know them so well, hearing of some of their backgrounds, many have done exceptional things. I know I do underestimate them and that I have made snap judgements based on my core values, of idealistic interactions and behaviour. My key focused thought, needs to centre on their age, not at an excuse but to remember my younger self and my imperfections then.

My core philosophy of “I can do this better on my own” is long forgotten because I have realised that I can’t do it better on my own. I have the passion and drive to do things on my own, but what I produce and realise would be enhanced with other’s participation and input. In Enactus, a team enabled me to realise my goals and we realised member’s own personal goals, a possibility we could not have individually done alone. We achieved so much more together, than anything I could have imagined. Working within that team has deeply changed my deep seated view of team work and the value of team learning. The mutual win/win working in practice. The team was not a bind and something we “had” to be. The team was a strength; in fact it was singularly pointed out by judges as one of our winning strengths and reasons why we did so well in the competition. Unlike the others, we stood together with no finance behind us (we earned all our start up pennies within) and we had a core team of 15 (competing and beating teams that consisted of 100s). It showed over the course of 18months, what 15 completely different individuals can do and what they can learn as a team; we learnt a lot.

Whilst Enactus taught me what a team can do in practice, this course has taught me the necessity of a team and understanding not only myself, but also each other. Consequently, this course is teaching me, that in order to start up my business and make this in to a reality, it isn’t me against the world, and it will be me within a synergistic team, learning as we go. This isn’t daunting, this is thoroughly exciting.

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