Learning Through Doing

* 6 minute read *

Check out and share the video from our first ever “Random Act of Awesome” here.

As we draw to the close of another year, my thoughts turn to the goals that I established for myself on New Year’s Eve, 2012. I look back on how I turned my attention inward to seek a clear direction for where to invest my energy this year and how this process gave birth in part to the Be Awesome concept. 

I love how goals are never a destination, but merely a signpost to lead us to some unknown yet purposeful future direction. I’ve grown to embrace the uncertainty and serendipity of life and be open to abandoning or redesigning goals along the way.

Be Awesome began as a challenge and intention to share. I simply wanted to challenge myself to share one life experience and lesson learned each week via a blog. I’m very proud to say that I’ve honoured this committment up until now and I intend to follow it through right until the end of the year.

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This openness and sharing of myself; the vulnerability and the shedding of many personal boundaries has been very empowering but also challenging along the way. I’ve learnt a lot and I have achieved what I needed from this process. I won’t be continuing the weekly blogging and open sharing next year. This is because I have become clearer about where I want to invest my future energy through Be Awesome.

I want to empower young people to embody, through experience, powerful tools for becoming successful future citizens, and I believe that the key to achieving this goal is:

Learning Through Doing

I first discovered the phrase “learning through doing” in my work with design thinking. And it has never ceased to amaze me how my journey this year in exploring the role of design thinking to support teachers, students, businesses and the general public has paralleled my journey in exploring personal growth.

This week I ran two short design thinking workshops. One was with a group of high school graphics teachers (undertaking the Marshmallow Challenge) and the other was with our senior management team at the library.

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In planning these workshops and later reflecting on them I had an insight. At the core of personal success, (through personal growth) and collective success (through design thinking), I believe there is a very simple cyclical process. It goes something like this:

  1. We identify a problem. We ask ourselves: what’s currently not working?
  2. We turn this problem into an opportunity. We shift our mindset from pessimism, to realism to optimism. We imagine an ideal future, where this problem no longer exists and we start to think in terms of possibilities.
  3. We take courageous action in the direction of the ideal future. We take one small step, one small calculated risk with an acceptance that this action might lead to “failure”. We are prepared to “fail” because we know that “failure” only leads to learning.
  4. We reflect on our experience of taking action. We ask ourselves: what did I learn and what would I do differently? With this reflection comes insight…an aha moment! Insight brings a new perspective to our current situation and suddenly we find we have grown and moved forward! When the time is right and we find ourself out of balance again, we ask ourself that same question: what’s currently not working? and we start the process all over again.

At the heart of this process, whether it’s design thinking or personal growth, is the act of taking courageous action.

As my awesome coach Vee taught me this year, courage is not the absence of fear, courage is feeling fear and acting in spite of it.

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Photo Credit: pattoise via Compfight cc

As I look forward to 2014 I can feel my intentionality pulling me toward exploring this concept of learning through doing more. Almost coincidentally, several weeks ago, around the time I was starting to really consolidate this intention, I was invited to speak at an education conference in Singapore next year. This will give me an opportunity to share what I’ve learnt and dive deeper into a few of the hypotheses I’ve built over the last couple of months:

  • That when we shift our body we shift our mind
  • That in engaging our body completely in the moment, we turn off the critical, judgmental and analytical part of our brain and open ourselves to greater creativity, intuition and imagination
  • That the lessons we learn through experiences that engage our whole body in powerful and meaningful ways our embodied for life

I have a dream for Be Awesome that involves empowering young people through powerful experiences, with a series of tools to support them in later life.

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Photo Credit: Cia de Foto via Compfight cc

So, I’m curious and I would love to hear your opinion on these questions:

  • Think back to the most memorable educational experiences of your childhood? In what way were they connected to physical experiences in a particular space?
  • If you could give an 8 year old child the gift of just one empowerment tool that would benefit them for the rest of their life what would it be?

Til next week, Be Awesome!


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