Learning Technologies Newsletter

ISSUE 113 - January 2015 - by Phil Chambers

TIME TO READ: 4 minutes (Average Reader), less than a minute (Speed Reader) - Word Count: 975 To learn more about Speed Reading Contact us or read my book ‘Brilliant Speed Reading’.

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Welcome to the January issue of The Learning Technologies Newsletter. Please continue to forward it to friends and colleagues who you think would find it useful.

This month we have a story about achieving you goals and, as always, our regular features of Quote of the month, Mind Map Tip and What I’m up to.


January's Quote of the Month

"If I had only one hour to save the world,
I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem,
and only five minutes finding the solution."

~ Often incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein
but the earliest evidence points to an unknown academic at Yale University.

More quotes here


Mind Map Top Tip of the Month

Connect your main branches directly to the central image.
Do not leave a gap around the centre -
This wastes space and disrupts the connected flow of ideas.

101 Top Tips for Better Mind Maps

What's Phil Up To?

Phil Chambers

In January I will be providing memory coaching for a family locally, a Speed Reading Seminar in Germany and Mind Mapping training in Algeria (assuming my visa come though in time!)


A New START for a New Year?

The New Year is a time for setting targets, making resolutions and beginning anew. You can increase the likelihood of achieving your goals in 2015 if you have a system in place. START as you mean to go on. Follow the acronym below…

State your goals clearly

It is very important to define what you want to achieve (see quote of the month above). If you have an ill-defined question or goal, this can have several detrimental effects: By devoting time and effort to solving a side issue you are not making good use of your resources. If you believe you have solved the problem but have not tackled the root cause it may well escalate while you attention is elsewhere. If you solve the wrong problem you may exacerbate the situation.

You have probably heard of SMART goals, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. The trouble with goals that are ‘Achievable’ and ‘Realistic’ is that they are limited and uninspiring. If you’re not inspired and passionate about your goals you are far less likely to achieve them. By setting small ‘achievable’ goals we are actually setting ourselves up to fail. Bad experiences and fear of failure lead you to set goals that are even smaller or worse, just give up. You find yourself on a downward spiral to mediocrity. American pastor and motivational speaker Robert H Schuller said, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I agree with this sentiment – set massive audacious goals and then break them down into achievable and realistic steps.

Write your goals down and share them with a friend so that you have someone to hold you to account. It is often quoted that Yale (or Harvard Business School) conducted a study on the efficacy of clear written goals. This is actually an urban myth but some empirical research verifying this has been conducted by a group at Dominican University, Illinois.

Even better, create a Mind Map of your goals with plenty of vivid images. Don’t worry if you are not confident of your artistic abilities. You can use software such as iMindMap and import clip art or images from the internet. If drawing by hand you can scan into the computer and add images or even paste appropriate images onto your paper Mind Map.

Take action – Test

Having broken your goals down into manageable steps take action to achieve these. There will be instances when the action is not successful but it should be seen as a scientific experiment. Regardless of the outcome you will get valuable data. Sir Humphry Davy, one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century - perhaps ever, said, “I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.”

Analyse the results you got

Having conducted your test look at the results. Did you get the outcome you expected? If not, can you see why this may have been the case? What can you learn from your mistakes? Are there other factors you need to take into account? Were you working with false assumptions? You can once again use a Mind Map to draw together the results and possibly gain new insights.

Refine the approach

Having analysed what happened, decide what you need to do differently. Small refinements make a big difference overall. This is the basis of Japanese principle of ‘Kaizen’. At Toyota they organize regular “Kaizen events,” where a team spends a day working to come up with improvements, and then implement them. Employees are encouraged look for improvement opportunities, so they can have something to suggest to the team at the next event. This forms a culture of continuous improvement made up of many small steps.

Try again

Armed with your new insights and refinements to the original test, try again. The key to success is to take an iterative approach. Keep trying and improving, never giving up. In the words of Thomas Edison, “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

START the year with these principles but remember that the same approach can be used to for any new project.

Wishing you a success filled 2015.

That's all for this month. Look out for the next edition in February.

Best Wishes