Friday, April 24, 2015

Working out loud "Touching the treadmill"

'Rambling out loud' alert; you have been warned!

I've casually noted other's posts on Twitter and LinkedIn with the #wol and #wolcircle tags. Last year I had the opportunity to catch up with +Helen Blunden and her working out loud circle at the AHRI National Convention.

I recently picked up on John Stepper's blogs and as a result of not only subscribing to them, but actually reading the emails received, two articles in particular caught my attention.

I referred to one in the title of this post; Touching the treadmill. I am a gold medallist when it comes to big ideas and grand plans. I'm equally successful at never getting beyond a collection of aspirations with no clear goal and tangible actions to turn them into reality. I don't begin to touch the treadmill.

The second article "A dream deferred no longer" really hit home, not surprisingly given what I've already said. I was reminded of the line in Spencer Johnson's book Who moved my cheese?, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?". What would I do indeed?

And the story continues. I caught up with some professional colleagues who have become dear friends and realised that we were all seeking something. Something I'll call 'meaningful work' for now.

It got me thinking. Could 'working out loud' help? I shared the post "A dream deferred no longer" asking if they were interested in exploring #wol and seeing where it could take us. Our little circle was formed.

+John Stepper has been incredibly helpful and shared many resources and words of encouragement. We have met twice and those uncertain about the value of social media in connecting with others are 'touching the treadmill'. We all had LinkedIn accounts. We all now have a Twitter presence!

Artwork by Kazumi Koyama

My thoughts so far:

  • learning to work out loud is a process, not a destination. Understanding what it is and means for each of us requires a readiness to let go and work in a world that seems to be without (traditional) structure and a concept that is difficult to grasp. I attempt to understand this through what Harold Jarche refers to as 'life in perpetual beta', and 'adapting to perpetual beta'.
  • for many, 'problems' are solved privately, 'goals' are personal, reaching out and asking for help is a sign of weakness (subconsciously, if not consciously)
  • we tend to see authentic relationships as those formed and maintained through personal face to face or voice to voice interaction; what I have come to know as 'in real life' or IRL. Those that take place in the 'virtual world' just aren't the same
As I work on the activities to prepare me for our 3rd circle meeting, I've paused to reflect on my networks and connections and I realise that they are extensive. I tested this out by searching Google+ for 'empathy', a topic of particular interest. The top results were almost all from people I already have a connection with. My 'working out loud' challenge is less to build networks, more to engage with and contribute to the ones I already have. I have to remind myself that people have valued the little I have already shared and have greater faith and confidence in my ability to continue to do so and 'give back'. I also need to show greater respect for others and myself; showing I value my connections, in we should always show value and respect for people IRL; stay connected, keep in touch, give and take. 

I was reminded that I got ideas for uni assignments through asking open questions, solved crochet problems by asking Google+ communities for help. From 2000km away I was able to find out if my daughter's college was going to be flooded. Connections in the city checked local flood alerts and one person even knew someone who lived near by and could give a real-life report that assured us all would be well. 

I've moved from online to offline; I already mentioned that I met +Helen Blunden last year. We initially 'met' at one of the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies  courses on personal knowledge management. We subsequently met over an IRL coffee while I was visiting her home town. I've been part of very successful mentoring programs conducted entirely by Skype and phone. +Gem Hodges  and I shared real Christmas cards a couple of years ago.

I visited the Huntington Library as a result of a photo of the Getty Centre in Los Angeles and comment from +Leo Salazar. Thank you again!

I try to give back and certainly need to give a lot more; 'likes', 'favourites' and +1s are at least a starting point....

Back to the beginning, I did warn you this was going to be a ramble. Whilst I wonder what anyone reading this might gain from the experience (other than minutes of their life they'll never get back), this has been a useful activity for me. I've tried to acknowledge a few who have helped so far and I've realised the wonderful connections I already have and know there will be many I have missed, for which I am truly sorry.

Thank you one and all!

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