Sometimes like everyone, I have my up days and I have my down days.
For the last couple of weeks, I have been feeling decidedly flat and unmotivated. I’m someone who is affected by the weather and the cooling temperature is making me dread the upcoming winter. A cynical part of me calls it “the winter of discontent” as I use the vernacular from Game of Thrones.
A friend tells me that Mercury and Jupiter is in retrograde which in turn, is making me reflect on all the big life questions.
Joking aside, another reason for this feeling of a low point is coming to terms that my focus on personalised and social learning doesn’t seem critical or necessary to my learning and development peers, and that knocks the wind right out of me.
I’ve had to lay low and lick my wounds as I figure out how I can make the message of “making work and learning personal” counts.
Instead, I grapple to make something that I love and believe in – the need for people to have skills that will support them in their own professional and personal development relevant again through varying the products and services I have in the hope that I can provide support as a consultant in this space. From my discussions with various people in the field as well as reading various case studies and reports, it seems that corporate Learning and Development teams are still not part of the discussions when it comes to devising the organisational strategy when it comes to skilling up their workforce for the future – whether that future is within the company or outside of it. This, in turn, is making me question who my clients should be.
Maybe the focus must be on senior leaders who are setting the future agenda of their organisation.
As a result, I’ve gone into my own social networks and communities and asked the question to my peers as to whether they understand what it is I do. I figured that if I received feedback from people, I would be in a better position to be able to tailor my products and services.
It was an interesting process because it revealed that people don’t understand what it is I do and what value I provide. Some thought I designed training courses while others said that I “play with social media”. The word “learning” seemed also to have a negative connotation with many people outside of my field of Learning and Development.
People have been helpful in giving me some ideas of how to pitch what I do but ultimately, the differences in responses make me realise that in general, people don’t place an importance in building personal skills for their own learning and development. The focus is still on either the organisation providing this support OR that the focus is on formal education or training providers.
Learning how to learn is not front of mind for people because ultimately, “learning” is the process – instead, people are focussed on the outcome – the end result. Those outcomes being:
- How to keep their job
- How to get a promotion
- How to build their own business
- How to become a freelance consultant
- How to change careers
- How to change jobs
- How to hang in there until retirement
So it begs the question that my own focus shouldn’t be on personal learning but what that personal learning could achieve for people. That is, the end result.
I believe that my unique value proposition is that I help people to build personal learning networks that help them re-engage with their work.
After all, it was only when I used my own networks for learning that I realised their power. My own relationship with my work changed to a more positive one because I saw new opportunities, trends and patterns that I hadn’t seen before – and I want to share that message to others.
So how do I do this? By
- Using the work process as an immersive learning experience
- Using social media and networks in ways you hadn’t thought possible
- Inspiring the use of social tools and technology to express your unique voice and share your knowledge to others
- Helping you to build your own trust and reputation of your expertise online
- Helping you cut through the crap of information overwhelm and constant distractions
- Enjoying the spontaneity and joy of learning and to make every workplace interaction and activity into a developmental one for you and others.
This blog post by Helen Blunden was written in Melbourne, Australia and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.