No Change Without Learning

We are in the midst of assembling the final report for a learning experience that we offered to executive directors earlier this year. In the final survey, many of the participants commented on how good it was to step back from the everyday for learning and reflection. Their responses got me thinking about the value—and challenge—and of investing time, energy, and sometimes money in the acts of learning and reflection.

Yes, one piece of learning and reflection is formal training and professional development. Heather wrote about the importance of training back in 2017.

We believe in professional development at Third Space Studio and we invest our time and resources in that belief. We wish more nonprofit boards would ask questions about the investments in professional development during the annual budget review.

I want to share a bit here about the more informal forms of learning and reflection. We live in a world with a constant flood of information and perspective. How do we make sense of it all? How do we decide what deserves our attention and what is frivolous? How do we figure out if what we are actually doing is contributing to our mission and goals?

Like many things from wellness to productivity, it comes down to habits. Here are a few related habits that I have learned from colleagues. Some I practice, some I ought to practice:

  • Take five minutes at the end of every day to ask yourself a few questions: When was I uncomfortable today? Why? When was I at my best today? Why? What happened today that piqued my curiosity?

  • Wrap up the week with a reflection: What did I learn this week? What needs my attention next week? And I’m not talking about a to-do list in this last question!

  • Regularly dedicate a short amount of time at staff meetings to sharing learnings: What did you learn last week that might be relevant and useful to your colleagues?

  • Regularly read articles and books from your field – and from outside your field. When you finish the piece, jot down a few thoughts on what you learned and how it might be useful.

  • Wrap up or begin the year with some solitude. Reflect on the high points and low points of the past year. Explore what you learned and what you might need to learn in the coming year.

I believe that we cannot change our ourselves, our organizations, our communities, our world without learning. It’s an essential skill and practice. What learning and reflection habits are you practicing? Let us know!