Cold showers

I believe in cold showers.

At many times in my life, I’ve yearned for greater self-discipline. I believe that a portion of the value that comes from sports, music, the arts, etc., is based on the fact that in order to participate successfully, you must practice regularly. I believe that the ability to do what you value even when you don’t feel like it is among the most fundamental requirements for any long-term success.

So how do I begin building a sense of self-discipline when things are crazy and I feel like I hardly have time to turn around?

I tried to think of something that I could fit into my regular routine that would be mentally difficult to get myself to do on a regular basis. I recalled a time when I was living in Japan and was often the first in the shower. In the winter, the small water heater in the shower would take a while to heat things up, so the first shower was often a cold one. Ironically, I noticed that I was much less cold all morning after a cold shower than after a hot one.

Having done it before, I knew I could do it, and I thought it might just serve my purposes.

Turning on the cold water and jumping in the first time brought back all sorts of childhood memories. Standing on the diving board, at the edge of a lake, or even outside the door of a friend’s house that I’m a bit anxious about visiting. All situations where I’m a bit afraid of what might happen. So I jump in. Yup…it’s cold.

I finish my shower (for some reason I’m finished much more quickly than usual) and move through my morning. I notice that things feel a bit snappier. I’m moving from task to task more readily than I usually do. I’m ready earlier than usual and I get a few additional things done, then I’m off to work. The snappy effect is mostly gone by lunch, but I’ve had a productive morning.

I decide to implement a cold shower regimen for each weekday. The results are similar (although there are some mornings that the snappy just never quite arrives) and I notice a cumulative change to my outlook.

Then something interesting happens. It’s afternoon (no more snappy). I’m looking at the clock and trying to figure out what else I can get done today. Then I remember: I need to make THAT phone call. Someone isn’t happy and I have to work things out. This will not be a good thing. My very first thought is, “Maybe I could call in the morning…” Then I realize that what I’m feeling is just a variation of the “Holy crap this is going to be cold!” hesitation, and I realize, “I can totally do this!” I jump into the phone call with the same mental muscle that I use every morning to shower.

Since then I’ve noticed that I’m regularly drawing on that “jump in the shower” ability. The proximity of having been successful at something hard just this morning has proven to be a valuable talisman for all sorts of productivity demons. I still have my days when I hit the 3:30 wall and just can’t make much of anything happen, but they are fewer, and I can always find something that I can do.

So if you’re looking for some currency to deposit in that self-confidence bank account, consider jumping in a cold shower. If you do, please tell me if you find it useful!

20. March 2013 by dale
Categories: Productivity, Psychology | Leave a comment

One step at a time

If I’m dissatisfied with a situation, there are three possible courses of action that will lead to satisfaction:

  1. Change the situation
  2. Change how I feel about the situation
  3. 1 + 2

Knowing this does not necessarily make it easy to do. Why is that? It seems like a very logical assumption to make that once I understand a problem, I change things to remove whatever is causing the problem.

I’m walking somewhere. Something is in my way. I move/go over/around it, or I decide that the effort isn’t worth the cost and I turn around.

All too often in life, however, it feels like I’m walking, I see the hurdle in front of me, I know that I can jump the hurdle, I visualize the times I’ve jumped identical hurdles in the past, I declare my intention to jump the hurdle, I draw up plans for how high I’m going to need to jump, I buy an app that calculates the best way to land on the other side of hurdles and I work up a beautiful 3D rendering of the terrain, just to make sure that I’ve considered the best way to jump the hurdle. Meanwhile, the race has moved on and nobody cares if I jump or not.

I suppose, without becoming overly psychoanalytical (too late?), that this indicates that I have a much more effective set of hurdles that I carry around with me everywhere I go. Hmmm… That sounds like a situation to overcome…

<sigh>

20. March 2013 by dale
Categories: Productivity, Psychology, Random | Leave a comment

CCK12

I’m going to try and participate in  Connectivism & Connective Knowledge 2012 (CCK12), which is being conducted by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. While it does represent yet another thing to do, I think it is a great opportunity to participate in a project with these thought leaders and other similar-minded people from around the world.

23. January 2012 by dale
Categories: CCK12, Learning, MOOC, Technology | Tags: | Leave a comment

Personal Training metaphor

Traditional IT training sucks. The number one problem is the time spent:value obtained ratio, which, due to the terribly watered down version of content that will appeal to the broadest audience, is never very favorable.

I think a better (but admittedly much more expensive) approach is to consider the role of a personal trainer. If I join a gym and sign up for a personal trainer, they will spend a considerable amount of time listening to me and conducting tests to determine where I am and where I want to go. They will of course apply a standard framework to my activity, but I will do different things if I want to lose weight than I would if my goal were increased flexibility. The trainer’s job is to analyze my current state, establish a customized plan based on my goals, and to observe and coach my efforts (usually for a short time) to be sure I’m able to apply what I’m being taught.

Personal training is expensive and there are those who can do just fine with an aerobics DVD in their living room for a much lower cost. For those who are just beginning or those who have very specific (and often challenging) goals, the cost of a personal trainer is acceptable.

Those working with professionals to assist them in gaining new tehnology skills can benefit from the same approach. Focus on the challenge/goal and not the tool (not many people desire to become a master of the electronic treadmill interface, but many want to run faster). Understand and support as much of the learning process as possible. Don’t become, as Rob England (aka The IT Skeptic) puts it, a “binder chucker” who feels their job is done once the stack of materials is delivered and briefly reviewed. If you paid someone to help you train for a marathon and your investment was rewarded with a 30 minute review of “best practices” for marathon running and a copy of “Marathons for Dummies,” you’d probably be pretty upset, not to mention not very likely to do very well on race day. Much of technical “training,” however, is stuck in this modality.

Again, England:

The best way to achieve real results is for training to be customised to the needs and situation of the trainees, and to include onsite coaching, support, follow-up, feedback and refreshers.

14. June 2011 by dale
Categories: Learning, Technology | Leave a comment

Kirkpatrick Model

When a concept is simple to grasp then I believe there’s a greater likelihood it will be embraced.
One such example is the Kirkpatrick Model for evaluating training programs. How can you argue with this:

A “Level 1” learning experience is where the student REACTS positively to training.

A “Level 2” learning experience is where the student actually ACQUIRES new knowledge or skills.

A “Level 3” learning experience is where the student actually goes back to work and CHANGES their behaviour.

A “Level 4” learning experience is where the student’s new behaviour IMPACTS the business in a positive and measurable way.

Here at Pink we’re undertaking a review of all of our education products to ensure we go beyond levels 1 & 2.

from http://blogs.pinkelephant.com/index.php?/president/comments/experiential_learning_translating_knowledge_into_results/

14. June 2011 by dale
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Crosswalk to Fretwell

They installed a traffic circle in front of the Fretwell Building a few years ago. Overall it seems to have been a good thing, but traffic is nasty at certain times of the day no matter what the pattern looks like…

31. August 2010 by dale
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Baby mockingbird

Hush little baby, don’t say a word…

29. August 2010 by dale
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I love you

I took this to send to Mason on his phone.

28. August 2010 by dale
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Who me?

The beard is getting a bit fuller…

27. August 2010 by dale
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First day of school

25. August 2010 by dale
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