The simplest messages often resonate the most. Twenty plus years ago a local preacher came and addressed my High School year group. His name and the denomination he belonged to have long since escaped me; but the core message of his sermon has not. The man of the cloth said that we live in a ‘must have now’ society. There was something about his message that still, even looking back twenty years on, rings true. For mid 1990s Britain read anywhere or, more to the point, anyone who can log onto the Internet via computer, tablet or smartphone now. As Thomas Friedman, the author of the World is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-first Century, put it anyone can ‘plug in and play’. Modern technology and consumer goods can be a ‘be all and end all’ to some.
In reality, loved ones matter most: the time we spend together, the time we spend apart and the sacrifices we are prepared to make for our nearest and dearest.
In The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, Donald Schön talks about ‘reflecting in’ and ‘reflecting on’ action. How we calibrate and recalibrate our actions depending on our tacit understanding of any given situation. Citing Michael Polanyi, Schön explains how we can recognise a face from a million faces without knowing why. He goes on to cite the example of a baseball pitcher who is ‘in the groove’, pitching accurately and successfully. When asked to deconstruct the reason(s) for his success he is unable to do so; it just feels right at the time.
Sherryl Turkle spells out some of the limitations of our increasing reliance on technology in an extremely popular and thought provoking Ted Talk called ‘Connected but alone’. Central to her talk is the suggestion that we pay less attention to the people we are physically with, be it at home or at work, because we are so connected with our mobile devices. She explains, to paraphrase, the virtue of solitude: setting aside time to be alone with our thoughts in order to cultivate our self awareness. To view Turkle’s Ted Talk click here.
Remembering that patience is a virtue can serve anyone studying for a higher education qualification well. At the time of writing, I am approximately half way through my Masters. In truth, I wish I were back in full time employment now. Keeping the end goal in sight helps keep me motivated. ‘Must have now’ does not apply, though the allure of meaningful full time work is strong the need to stay the course is greater.
The desire to ‘get there’ is tempered by the need to build the right foundations. Photo of tram works in St Peter’s Square, Manchester taken on March 9th, 2016.
The pressure of conflicting deadlines gathering in a perfect storm can be terrifying if you let it be. ‘Must do now’ can be as counterproductive as ‘must have now’. Working continuously unstintingly on a single goal without breaks can be exhausting and damaging. I often try to work best in productive spurts a theory elucidated by Henry Mintzberg.
I am typing the last part of this post in the early of the hours of the morning I can hear birds chirping outside. I know writing this post at this time may well be detrimental to my productivity later in the day, but at this point in time I am awake and lucid enough to write.
Normally, I do not ask for feedback on my posts, though it is always welcome. This post is going to form part of my evidence for an assignment for part of my Masters and I would really appreciate any feedback you are prepared to offer on this post or on this blog in general. Please feel free to comment!
How and when do you reflect? Do your reflections alter over time? Has blogging fed your continuing professional development? Can blogging be used in coaching?
Thank you in advance…