Tag Archives: lifelong learning

Action Learning in the Age of Corona

learning

learningOne of the many things I’m grateful for in the wake of the Corona virus are my multiple and varied networks. On the personal end of things, I’m reconnecting with friends and relatives from all over the globe and from different phases of my life. That’s fun and enormously comforting.

On the professional end of things, I’m discovering that at a moment when it’s vital to be flexible and agile in how we approach our work, my network is furnishing me with new opportunities for growth.

I was reminded of this the other day when a call went out at one of the consultancies where I work. Overnight, this company – which specializes in leadership development – was transitioning its content from face-to-face workshops to webinars. The CEO suggested that the 50 or so affiliated consultants sort ourselves into small “action learning groups” of four to six people to help navigate this shift into the Wild West of online delivery.

I’m new to action learning, which has been described as a process of “insightful questioning and reflective listening.” It’s essentially a group coaching methodology that brings together small groups of people from different areas of an organization to solve real issues in real time.The idea is to use group dialogue to disrupt the status quo and generate innovate solutions.

My group defined its problem as “Sharing our collective insights from the field to learn about super powers of adaptability in shifting offline to online learning in tough times.” Our Slack channel is #superpowers. (P.S. Love!) Because all six of us have very different backgrounds – ranging from journalism and academia to executive coaching and learning and leadership – we all bring different perspectives to this joint endeavour.

The first week, one member of our group gave a short presentation on how to engage audiences with online learning tools. I already knew how to use polls, chats and break-out rooms to facilitate participation using Zoom. But in conversation with my Action Learning group, I was delighted to discover that document sharing, What’sApp and live video recordings could also be utilised to stimulate learning.

The following week, we talked about the advantages of running webinars through other platforms like Google Hangouts and Prezi. We also talked about how to flip the classroom, the potential advantages of shorter “bursts” of instruction and how to fold one-to-one tutorials in alongside webinars to personalize the learning experience. Next week, I’ll facilitate a discussion around “voice,” and how to become a thought leader using social media.

I’ve written before about why it’s important to have a group of people who can offer advice as you move through your career, rather than relying on one, sole mentor. This diversity enables you to draw on a range of viewpoints – and skill sets – that complement your own. I’ve also championed lifelong learning as a way to cultivate curiosity as we age.

What’s wonderful about this new group I’ve joined is that I feel like I’m doing both things. I’ve got some new guests at my metaphorical “dinner table” who are helping me to develop professionally. And during a period in my life when I’m mostly  stuck indoors, it’s great to stay fresh and learn new skills.

What are you doing during this difficult time to accelerate your learning curve?

Image: Questions fear learning book by Mohammed Hassan via Pixabay

 

Lifelong Learning: Cultivating Curiosity as we Age

Continuing Education

Continuing EducationNot long ago, I attended an all-day workshop on PowerPoint. It was designed for people who felt comfortable using the program, but who wanted to take it to the  next level. As I use slides all the time in my new consulting business, I thought it might be a useful skill to hone.

It was.

I’m a big fan of taking classes in adulthood. Since moving to London twelve years ago, I’ve taken classes in everything from public speaking to improvisation to  how to write a business plan. In past lives, I’ve taken classes in freelance writing, beginning Hebrew as well as the  Continuing Ed class to end all Continuing Ed classes: I’m Jewish, You’re Not.)

People go back to school as adults for many different reasons. Often, it’s to pursue a hobby. You try something new (or return to something old.) You meet new people. You collaborate. Above all, you have fun. (I’m currently eyeing a course entitled Actors Singing From West End to Broadway. Bring it on!)

Read the rest of this post over on Better After 50

Image: Continuing Education Adult Education Expo via Wikimedia Commons

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Tips for Adulthood: Five Tools for Adopting a Growth Mindset

working woman

working womanOn occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

One of the things I enjoy most about my new life as a communications consultant is the variety it brings. One day I’m coaching a student on how to write a doctoral thesis …another day I’m editing a policy briefing…and the next I’m delivering a workshop on life skills for offices to a group of statisticians.

But dealing with that variety also has its challenges. Lately, I’ve been spreading my wings outside of the higher education and non-profit sectors to venture into commercial work. And as I begin working with a different sort of client, I am learning how to operate in an entirely new world – one that has its own vocabulary, mores and ethos.

I’ve long been a huge fan of  Carol Dweck’s concept of “the growth mindset.” This is the idea that we shouldn’t think about our basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, as fixed traits that are unalterable. Rather, she encourages people to embrace a “growth mindset,” one where people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. So as I make my foray into London’s financial center, “The City,” to drum up new clients, I am in full-on, growth mindset mode.

Here are five tools for adopting a growth mindset:

a.  Think of it as part of your lifelong learning. Dweck maintains that a growth mindset fosters a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. In a similar vein, one of the key takeaways from reading Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott’s brilliant book, The 100 Year Life, is that we need to abandon the traditional idea of a neatly arranged, three-staged life comprised of education, career and retirement. Instead, we need to embrace a multi-phased life course in which people keep learning throughout their lives, take lots of breaks and dip in and out of jobs and careers.  I think about my immersion in the private sector right now as a form of life-long learning, albeit one that doesn’t happen outside my job, but within it.

b.  Create some affirmations. One practical step that can help cultivate a growth mindset are affirmations. Affirmations are short, powerful statements of self-belief.  I adopted this practice – (which, like many others, I stole from Julia Cameron) – when I was writing my book manuscript last year. Telling myself things like, “I’m a good writer,” “I like my book,” and “My writing engages and connects with readers” was really helpful on those off days where I didn’t have flow or lost confidence in myself. But affirmations don’t have to just be creative. They can also apply to work, e.g.: “I am a great salesperson,”…”I enjoy client relationship management,”…”I love empowering people from all walks of life to achieve their full communications potential.” As a friend of mine who spent 30 years as a consultant in the private sector put it, “Don’t think of the Private Sector Delia as different to University Delia or Non-Profit Delia. She is the same person, who happens to be applying her skill set to a different sector.”

c.  Join a group. Another way to build confidence and gain insight when you’re embracing a new professional identity is to join a group of other people facing a similar challenge. Last year I joined a global network of professional women called Ellevate, right when I was launching my business. Ellevate operates chiefly through “squads” – groups of women of different ages, sectors and stages of their careers who meet virtually over 12 weeks to provide advice and support to one another. I found it incredibly reassuring – and useful – to bounce ideas about marketing, business development and networking with other women who were either going through – or had already been through – a similar set of challenges.

d.  Get a new wardrobeResearch has also shown that what we wear to work affects the way we are perceived by others and the way we perceive ourselves. So if we want to adopt a new mindset – “I am the boss lady now!” – changing our clothes can help change our mindset. I’m already well on my way to rocking the City

e.  In the end, of course, if you really want to lean into your growth mindset, there’s no substitute for Nike’s motto: “Just do it!” I was listening to the Creative Class podcast the other day, when host Paul Jarvis observed that “the cure to fear is action.” Although I normally dislike cold-calling people – hearing this clarion call – I grabbed the phone and adopted a “smile and dial” mindset. And guess what? I landed three leads in 24 hours.

How about you? What strategies have you employed to get yourself in the right mindset for a new professional identity?

Image: Woman taking phone call via Pexels

Like what you’re reading? Sign up to my “Good Reads for Grownups” newsletter, a monthly round up of books and films I’ve liked, the latest research on aging, and other great resources about the eternal journey of adulthood, plucked from around the web. Subscribe here

Tips for Adulthood: Five Highlights from The Longevity Forum

new old age

new old ageOn occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

It’s been a long time since I attended a conference where I found myself looking forward to every single panel. But that was precisely the feeling I had this past Monday, when I attended the launch of The Longevity Forum, the latest organisation to emerge on the UK’s burgeoning ageing scene.

The Longevity Forum takes a two-pronged approach to the demographic realities of a globally ageing population. It is, on the one hand, interested in the potential for current scientific research to extend the lifespan. But it is also focused on the social and behavioural changes needed to adapt to this age of longevity.

The inaugural event to launch the Forum was invitation-only, so this blog shares five interesting ideas I took away:

Read the rest of this post over on the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing blog

Image: Smart Phone Face Man Old Baby via Pixabay