March 10, 2015

Learning

Posted in Learning tagged at 7:25 PM by Solutions2Projects, LLC

I am driven to learn and grow more out of fear than a desire to change. I fear mediocrity, complacency, becoming redundant, and dying (from flying). I am rarely disappointed when I take on a new education challenge and often get something unexpected out of it. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a number of learning experiences recently and move beyond my fear.

One of my best friends invited me to attend a seminar for female entrepreneurs in SF (Grow at the Well). Typically I am not a fan of these events as they provide more hype than substance. The speakers were interesting but both of us felt that their stories were not entirely relevant to us. We are both opportunists and concentrated on finding the hidden gems in the stories and the overall experience (besides a day in SF together) and came away with a few. On our way home, we talked about what we had gotten out of the day and how we could apply various things to our own businesses and provided each other with some valuable insight. This was by far the most beneficial part of the day. We had made space for the discussion using the events of the day as a springboard for the conversation. That was truly a luxury and extremely rewarding (and unplanned).

Another friend encouraged me to check out coursera.org for some free, online classes. I figured this was a low risk endeavor and opted to take a class on philosophy in business. The presenter was very good (and French which is always a plus), the topic interesting if not directly relevant, but the course structure was by far the most intriguing of all. I am now curious to see how other service providers structure their online courses and if this can be a place for me to offer IT project/IT strategy related education courses. In this particular case, I got out of the learning something totally unexpected…a service offering opportunity.

Currently, I am working towards my commercial helicopter rating. In March 2009, I achieved a private rating and over the years, I managed to narrow the scope and frequency of my flying so much that I didn’t feel as safe or as competent as I would have liked. Giving up flying was not an option so I needed to find a way to be a better and safer pilot (flying is a hobby after all and I need to mitigate the risks). I opted to pursue my commercial rating as I need a quantifiable goal and ‘being better’ was far too subjective.

This has required time hitting the books preparing for the written exam and time in the helicopter refining skills and developing new ones. As it was with my private, it’s been a lot of hard work but well worth the effort. I am weeks away from my check ride (which also requires book time and flight time), with the written exam and the required hours under my belt, but that seems almost unnecessary at this point. The goal was to become a better and safer pilot (as I have to remind myself) and at this point, that goal has been achieved and I am much more confident in my abilities in the cockpit (the commercial rating will be an added bonus of course). The confidence that I have gained through this process is pervasive and has been an unexpected pleasure.

I recently participated in a legal continuing education webinar on SaaS contracts with another best friend who is an attorney. We watched it together (yes there was wine involved) which was really great because she was able to provide the legal perspective and I was able to provide her with a practical, IT perspective. Oddly enough, it was a lot of fun. The topic was of interest to both of us as we both had significant experience with these types of contracts. I most appreciated all of the things that reinforced what I had been doing and also appreciated the new nuggets of knowledge that I can apply with the next contract review and negotiations. No certificate suitable for framing or degree required to benefit from (or reward) the experience.

Far too often we get so caught up in our daily activities or projects that we forget to see what else is out there to expand our knowledge, adjust our perspectives, reinforce what we do know, highlight areas of opportunity, and leverage existing and valuable resources.

So, take some time out of your busy schedule to enlighten your brain and enrich your life. You don’t know what is out there (or in you) until you take the time.

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