Learning Through Contrast

Posted Thursday, April 15th, 2010. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

WOW what a week I had. Last week at this time, my business partner and I were asked last minute to conduct a 45 minute workshop on Teamwork. With little time, little direction and minimal clarity on our end we pulled something together. We sent the framework to the person who had asked us and with no further comments we came in to present.

This was the first time that we met this group of people, actually business students at one of the universities in the city. It was a Saturday and the students are in the middle of exams. With this in mind we wanted to keep it light and fun. We presented our information, did a hands on exercise, engaged the students in questions and conversation and before you knew it the 45 minutes allotted to us was over.

Some students came up and said thank you, that they liked it. We left and went on with our busy day. The following week we started to receive feedback — we received a 6.6 out of 10 and the feedback wasn’t great. What came back to us was only negative feedback and worse that the ones that scored us low gave no comments at all.

A range of emotions swept through me and it has really taken 4 days, many conversations to really put this learning into perspective. We needed to evaluate this situation on how did we contribute to this/what role did we play? It allowed us to step back and really look at who we are, our strengths and where we can make changes for next time. We took our accountability and responsibility – mostly in the fact that accepting this assignment with only 24 hours notice for the depth and level of workshop that they wanted was foolish. We saw it as the first door opening and we need to rush in. The second major learning is that we did not ask enough questions, get clarity on who our group was that we were presenting to. What did the students want to know about the topic, Teamwork? We understand this.

Like all failure – the success comes when you can step back, learn from this and regroup and come back stronger the next time. That is exactly what we intend to do. I am so grateful for this experience.

It also enlightened me and my partner to how our children are being taught. We are dumbfounded by the fact that only negative feedback has been given, that the ones who provided low numbers gave no reasoning or constructive criticism on how to make it better. More frightening for me is that the school considers this a failure and that is the end result – no room to learn and grow. As well, the school played a part in the breakdown in communication. With little direction and very little time their expectation was too great.

Not all the feedback was bad — we had some good feedback. We received an email from a student attending the workshop saying that he loved the workshop, our exercise and that he wished it was longer than 45 minutes.

The real concern for me is that the idea of failure is being presented to our students as something bad. Failure is so critical to learning and growing that we need to understand the place it plays.

Yes, if you are continually failing by doing the same thing over and over again than most will say THAT IS INSANITY. However, if you take your lessons and learn and grow and make changes, tweaks, and more than you benefit and so does our world.

I want to share a couple of quotes that were sent to me:

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” ~ Henry Ford

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

“There is no failure. Only feedback. ” ~ Robert Allen

For me, my greatest learning comes through contrast – falling down and getting back up. Please remember this when you are starting to make changes in your life or embarking on something new. You are the “baby learning to walk” and you will fall down many times, get up and before you know it you will be running.

I am here to support you.

All my love,

Sandra

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