Earlier this week I came across Jacob Morgan’s suggestion to do one thing every year you’ve never done before. He recommends this as a way to keep growing and learning.
I frequently take on more than I have capacity for. The appeal of Morgan’s suggestion is that it improves focus and likelihood of getting really good at something. The downside is potentially forgoing other activities that are interesting and valuable. However, Morgan doesn’t say not to do other things. My interpretation is to make one thing a key focus and put more effort into mastering it.
Without consciously applying this concept, in 2018 my one new thing was the Learning Uncut podcast. I also did other things I hadn’t done before. This included running a public workshop series and managing a highly collaborative global project virtually. Each of these activities required development of new skills. Each exposed me to significant learning opportunities. However, the podcast stands out as it required the most sustained effort, and is I will continue to do it as a foundational element of my work.
To decide what my new focus activity is for 2019 I started with a short list of options. They are actually all things I’ve done previously but, as I mentioned in a previous post, not all to the standard I would like. The short list is:
- Dangerous Blogging
- Online course(s)
I rated each from 1 (very low) to 5 (very high) using the following evaluation criteria:
- Business Impact – Will it have a positive impact on my business success (sales, cash flow, profit)?
- Contribution – Will it help others? Over what time-scale?
- Learning – Will it stretch me and help me to learn new, useful skills?
- Joy – Does it spark joy for me? (An adaptation of Marie Kondo’s key question about possessions in their book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying)
My initial numerical evaluation failed to discriminate adequately between the options. However, it did provide one critical insight. I initially rated all options low against Joy. To sanity check this I picked three activities that had brought me joy in 2018. The common thread across these activities was collaboration and connection with others. These were all activities I had undertaken with at least one other person and which allowed me to interact directly with many others. This is something I have come to appreciate about myself in 2018 – collaboration is a critical ingredient of my best, most enjoyable work. It also accelerates my learning. So, whichever option I choose I should find a way to collaborate and connect as I do it.
I was still unsure which option to choose, so wrote a brief qualitative evaluation of each.
I ran three webinars in late 2018, all with another person. They are a good way to share knowledge and ideas. Done well, they encourage action and support change. They are versatile e.g. could be used for building capability, generating change and marketing. I enjoy developing and delivering them. They are a good way to connect with others and create an ongoing conversation. I could so some in partnership with others, and some solo. The technology and cost to get started is low and I could rapidly build upon my existing skills to deliver great webinars.
On the con side, a lot of webinars are delivered for free so it could be difficult to monetise them. But not impossible.
This style of blog writing is about generating change in an area that matters to you. The intent is to highlight what isn’t working now and share a vision for a different future. My quest is to transform approaches to learning in organisations. I’ve been blogging in this way under the guidance of a mentor, Katie McMurray, for two years.
This is different to my daily dispatches (one of which you are reading right now). The purpose of a daily dispatch is to show a piece of your work for the purpose of learning and improvement in work practices (your own and others). I find dangerous blogs much more challenging to write. The stakes are higher and the effort to gather my thoughts and convey them more demanding. I use a mentor for motivation, accountability and improving technique. Katie Mac is also a source of good ideas and advice on other profile / publicity activities. She provides a different perspective on my relevance and potential contribution.
I sometimes want to give up Dangerous Blogging. I find it a lonely, occasionally frustrating activity. I persist as I see tremendous value and potential to create change if I do this well and consistently. It’s a longer-term play. Belonging to Katie Mac’s Dangerous Blogging community connects me with a supportive group of fellow bloggers – we encourage and learn from each other. Participating actively in this group is an important support mechanism, and takes the edge off the loneliness. I could lean in more.
I’ve developed online courses as part of a team inside an organisation and updated a largely curated course for a client. However, I’ve not created any online courses in my own business. Creating an online course requires a wide range of skills – all of which I could build or source through others. Technology selection would require research and/or assistance. I may require technical support with the build and/or hosting. The commercial risk is higher on a course than a webinar. Research and a lean development approach would help address this. I could use webinars as part of my research and development.
Final Rating and Decision
I reviewed numerical ratings after completing a written summary. Written reflection helped to clarify my thoughts and refine my ratings.
My decision on each option is:
- Webinars – My focus activity for 2019
- Dangerous Blogging – keep going, write regularly (one morning per week), participate actively in Katie Mac’s Dangerous Blogging community, build mastery over time
- Online Course(s) – Assess in light of my progress in other areas and capacity in July 2019