This week I’m exploring some lessons I learned from my friend, mentor, and coach, Dr. Danny Friedland, who passed away 18 months ago after a year-long battle with brain cancer. Danny wrote the brilliant book Leading Well from Within.
One of Danny’s big ideas was around the process of self-coaching. He believed leadership is mainly about the capacity to coach others to coach themselves so they can rise through powerful cycles of continual learning and growth (aka Active Learning Cycles).
I welcome the opportunity to share this process with you here in RiseWithDrew to support our rising and experiencing meaningful change together.
We begin by thinking about a time when we experienced a meaningful change.
Often, change begins with an experience. Something happens. It could be an event. A significant event. Perhaps it’s a comment someone made. Or something we read that strikes us in a particular way.
But does the experience by itself bring about change?
While the experience itself is vital, it’s often insufficient. (The evidence? History repeats itself…)
Real change occurs when we reflect on the experience and then take action.
In other words, ideas alone don’t change the world. Digestion and application of ideas change the world.
The Active Learning Cycle has three components. Danny called this cycle “the Infinite Curriculum” because it does not stop.
1. We have an experience or take in content.
2. We reflect on that experience or content.
3. We decide to take action.
Which leads to another experience. About which we reflect. And then we decide to take action. And so on…
Another better question is: Why don’t we change more? There are plenty of changes we would like to make to improve our lives. We want to change! But we don’t always.
As humans, we are good at step one. We read the book. We attend the workshop. We watch the TED talk.
Unfortunately, we aren’t as good at steps two and three. We don’t make time to reflect. Life is busy. We’re in a hurry.
Or, let’s assume we do complete step two: we reflect. We put together a plan. Perhaps we have a conversation about the change we are going to make.
But then we fail to act. Our plan may be too big. We want to swallow the entire ocean. Today. Now.
Or we could get distracted. Maybe our perfectionism kicks in, and we realize we aren’t very good (yet) at whatever it is we want to do, so we get overwhelmed and quit. Or, as in my case, we want to keep learning. Endlessly. More learning! Learning is fun!
Step one is relatively easy. Steps two and three, not so much.
So, what can we do?
Step two is all about asking good questions. Why is this important? To me, to my family, or to my team? When have I been successful in the past? What does this say about my strengths? How could I capitalize on my strengths to take action? What’s a good next step? What’s an “experiment” I could run?
Step three is like the Nike commercial tells us: Just do it. Today! Schedule it. Put it on the calendar. State our intention publicly. Ask someone to hold us accountable.
That’s how change happens.
Experience, reflection, action.
The infinite curriculum.
That’s how we get better at getting better. It’s also why I’m inviting you to reflect and then take action at the end of each of my blogs, including this one. 🙂
Reflection: Consider a change I’d like to make in my life. Why is this change important to me? What is a good next step?
Action: Commit. Do it today.