Bikes, Swamps and Development

by Zhenya

This post is inspired by David Allen’s, Time Management guru, newsletter where he writes about getting things done. First, a couple of quotes from the author:

Does it look like a bike? :-)

Does it look like a bike? 🙂

 #1 I can’t help having an image of a kid first learning to ride a bike. Up, down, up, down, up, down, up. And not long after that, they’re focused on where they can go on their bike—not how to ride it. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had the same enthusiasm and dogged determination of that kid, for whom there’s no stopping the off and on and off and on, …, until we’ve graduated to the issue about where we’re going with it, not how to do it?

#2 What is it that we had at age seven or ten that kept us going, in spite of failure after failure after failure? No matter how many times they screw up, it feels so great to win—even just once! What’s funny is that it’s as easy to forget as to be reminded.

My thoughts in relation to Trainer Professional Development (PD): what I notice about myself is that there is a ‘line’ between feeling great about what I have done (it can be anything – from running a successful session to teachers or a new idea about giving feedback, or anything really) and then feeling down being behind the promises I gave to people (respond to an e-mail, answer a question, meet a deadline for a guest blog entry, etc.) Interesting, that the latter is often the case when I am between my training projects and having more quiet work time. In theory this means having more actual time to get things done. In reality though it sometimes means having more time to procrastinate (and tell myself that this is because I am between projects and not on an intensive course!)

Now, the harder part to me in these times ‘between’ courses is occasional doubting my own professional skills, and  at times not believing that I can still do that (great?) session from last month or provide a (useful?) piece of feedback to a participant or a colleague. Something I am now learning to do (even by writing this post) is to be my own mentor, to do what Baron Munchausen once did when he took himself out of swamp along with his horse! A funny way to think, you might say, but we have this colloquial expression in Russian ‘there’s a bit of joke in every joke’. Anyway, this idea of ‘self-help’ and the article and the example of a little kid learning to ride a bike and then thinking where to ride it put the ‘puzzle’ together to me! I thought how this metaphor can be extended to suit me even more: if the kid spent the whole winter not riding a bike but skating, this probably means that it will take him some time to recall how to do it in the coming spring. It also means that after those couple of days he will again think about the destination and not how to ride his bike.

Another thought: I guess this idea is also applicable to teachers who have successfully completed a training course, for example, and got back to their regular jobs in schools, started to try out new ideas and then got stuck. Or about a teacher who has been working for certain period of time and is feeling tired or even emotionally burnt out…

What are our ways to get back to the bikes? How can we pull ourselves out of a swamp (or, even better, avoid getting into a swamp next time)?