Thursday, October 11, 2018

Case Study: Personal Education

(Transcript)

In this case study for the personal change planning model, I wanted to provide a case study for decision around whether or not to join a particular club or any other time-consuming activity. I would also think of this case study in terms of pursue a certification or pursue a new educational opportunity, one that is going to take some time.

What we’re going do is we’re going to do this using all four quadrants The quadrants are defined as – I, or the impact on myself – It, or the impact on someone else. I think that’s really important when we’re looking at personal change. We – any changes that I need to make in terms of how I interact with another person or other people. It’s – which are the systems and resources that might be impacted or that I might need for the change.

When we do this, we’re looking at two passes. First, to help us with our decision making. One is the short term impact across all four quadrants, which are shown here. The second is the longer term impact across all four quadrants. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. Then, once we decide, yes/no – this is worth pursuing, then we’ll take a look at what we have already available to us, which I think is the step that we often forget when we’re initiating a project or initiating change and what we need.

What I’m showing here is the decision that I made a couple of months ago over whether or not to join Toastmasters. Now, for those who aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, they’re an organization that’s been around for a really long time and they started as a group that helped each other become better public speakers; particularly in the format of giving toasts.

An old tradition is a best man, stands up at a wedding and gives a toast to the bride and groom. It was about perfecting that over the years. Particularly, in the last year, they’ve expanded their mission to become not just an opportunity to practice public speaking, get the support to overcome fears of public speaking, and get better at public speaking. They’re also doing a lot more around leadership and leadership skills and coaching skills and feedback skills. That’s what attracted me. When I approached, I already knew a little bit of about what the organization was. I also had an advantage in that my dad was a member of Toastmasters growing up, so I had a passing familiarity with the group.

The center of the model is the choice that we’re making and this is a yes/no choice. In a later example. I’ll go over choosing between options. The choice is do I join Toastmasters? Yes/No. The second part of the center is the why. Getting very clear on my primary reason for joining it. In this case, my why is to get better at public speaking, particularly extemporaneous public speaking. Now I’ve been in front of the classroom and doing online webinars for 20 plus years. I’ve never taken a public speaking class and I know even watching some of my recorded videos that I’ve developed some really annoying verbal ticks that I’m not real happy with. So it was important to me to go back and really work on my public speaking, particularly the extemporaneous public speaking.

That’s the primary reason. Now there are secondary why to this: networking. I am a solopreneur, so networking is always important. Finding community – that is important, but that is secondary to public speaking. Being very clear as to why I’m doing this will help me decide as opportunities present themselves what is most important and whether to say yes or no to it. Having that why there is going to remain very critical.

I’m going to turn on my laser pointer here. The first pass I take is the short term and really these first two passes only took five minutes each. Then what I do is I sleep on it and then I go back to it. So the first question I ask is what’s the short term impact on me and others and my systems and how I relate to people if I do this?

In the I quadrant, a short term impact is one – attending meetings. Going into new groups is always a little scary. The second thing that’s really important in this instance is to make sure I contribute to each one. Any of these is a give and take, I want to establish solid relationships right off the bat with a new group of people. The second one (actually the third) is they have something called Pathways – that’s the learning tracks within the organization. They did a really nice job (on these learning tracks), that’s one of the things that attracted me to this group. One of the things with the pathway that I need to make sure of is that I’m only doing one at a time and one project at a time. So … not getting too far ahead of myself, which is really, really easy to do.

Excuse me, for the dog. The second thing (fourth thing?) is belief. Going into it with a belief that I am interested – which is infinitely more important than the second part of this – and interesting. Mostly what I’ve found is that what I’m interested in others, I become more interesting. The one thing I don’t want to fall into is the, “Hi, I’m grilling you with questions because I’m too nervous to have an actual conversation with you.” That’s something that I’m working on. Maintaining that belief is really important. Then mindset. It’s really important with this change – actually with any change, but with this change in particular – to remind myself that just because I’m not the most inspirational speaker now I can become one with healthy practice and support. The whole idea behind Toastmasters is being able to support each other as we become inspirational speakers and not necessarily inspirational speakers as in, you know, “I’m going to stand up here and pretend to be Tony Robbins.” That’s not what I mean. Inspirational more in terms of I’ve inspired someone else to improve themselves. I think that’s the best way I can explain that. Those are the short term impacts. There needs to be a change in belief in myself and a change in mindset. Also just remembering not to get ahead of myself.

The change of the impact on others. Keeping in mind the impact on my household. My household consists of myself and Ryan who’s my life partner. Any decision or choice or change that I make that has me leaving the house or needing to make time for things, I need to make sure he’s accommodated. I’m very, very fortunate in that I’ve got an incredibly supportive partner, but on my side I need to make sure that everything’s copacetic. Ideally before I just do stuff. That’s just a value I have. That’s the type of relationship I have. It’s not even a permission thing. It’s more of a respectful, “This is what I’m up to, this is what I’m doing, this is where I’m going. You don’t have any plans for me, do you?” It’s a respectful thing like that.

The change in the impact on the We, which is how I relate to him, is just making sure I’m negotiating time for those meetings. I needed to have it up here because the impact on him is that he’s gonna have to cook for himself Monday night. Other impacts include getting to know the individuals in the community I don’t know. That’s kind of the short term impact. I don’t know what further impact this is going to have yet. I’ll talk about that on the next slide. In terms of we with friends and family, one of the things that has a short term impact is just sharing what I’m doing. Everybody’s really supportive. No one’s said “How dare you go out and learn more about public speaking.” This is not a terribly controversial activity.

Short term, this is a bunch of new people to me. I don’t know them very well. I didn’t go in there knowing anybody. What is important is that I show up, present and interested and polite. Trying to be my best self in each of those interactions. Demonstrating respect. I think that’s incredibly important with anybody, not just people we don’t know very well.

I think it’s almost more important that we demonstrate that respect with our closest friends and family. Then being open to feedback. One of the things with Toastmasters that can be a little challenging is that it really is about feedback and that I’m learning. A lot of people, I’ve noticed, find sometimes that feedback is really painful. Part of the lesson is figuring out how to give feedback and how to receive feedback and how to discern, productive feedback. I know the group that I’m with works very hard to make sure that the feedback they provide is productive and is in the right spirit. I know they want you to improve as much as you want them to improve.

In the Its area, short term, blocking time for the meetings and also commuting to the meetings and finding parking for the meetings. I live right outside of Washington DC. It’s not just the amount of time it takes to get from here to there, it’s also finding parking and it’s also the unpredictability of traffic, so I have to schedule that.

There are also projects. I have to block time for the speech writing and the projects, not just for the meetings. I did my icebreaker (first speech) a few weeks ago. It took me (I was super nervous so I took longer than it probably needed to) but that one took me about eight hours to decide what I was going to talk about and structure the speech, run it against the evaluation criteria, restructure the speech, decide to do another speech, repeat process. I don’t quite anticipate the other speeches to take nearly that long, but I do think eight hours is about the right amount of time. Especially since I seem to like tossing stuff and starting over again. I’ll get over that.

One of the short term things I need to do is figure out what the expectations are from the club, and also national. Each of the clubs have a national component. I also need to learn more about the Pathways process. They just changed their tracks. So it’s a learning experience for everybody. That that’s the important part. That’s the short term impact

The long-term impact. When we go into new activities I found oftentimes that we look at the short term, but we don’t necessarily look at how this is going to impact us long-term or operationally. This is true both for personal change and also for projects and organizational change. In long-term, too, I also think in terms of exit strategy as well as knowing when to call it quits.

I think that’s a good thing to ask about in these long-term quadrants. In the I quadrant, the impact on me, I will have to make a decision. This talks to my exit strategy as to whether or not I continue that commitment past my dues – so the end of 2018. That will give me four months to see how things go.I also need to make a decision in regards to what level of participation in volunteering I’m going to provide to the group. It’s good to make that decision early versus being asked, saying yes, and then realizing you have no time for any of the other stuff that you’re trying to do or you’re tired or I start neglecting my family. Being really mindful and remembering what I’m trying to get out of it.

I think making those decisions early now – you can always change them – but having an idea of why you’re making those decisions and what you’re trying to get out of the experience and what you want the experience to be like as you go through the process. I think is really important. That’s the I quadrant.

Now I’ve got these italics because I really don’t know. I need to see what the long-term impact is on my partner. I also need to see what the impact is on club members. Part of the evaluation is – is the giving and receiving even? Am I getting what I need out of the experience? Am I reciprocating what they’re providing? So far it’s been an even exchange, but that’s something that I need to keep an eye on. I also need to ask club members as well as I start developing relationships long-term. For Ryan, it’s really maintaining the boundaries and communication around the activities.

I should add this here – having him encourage me to get out of the house. It’s a little too easy, especially when I start hitting evening, for me to go, “Oh yeah, well I’ll skip it.” That’s way too easy. Ineed to ask him to continue to encourage me. “Hey, don’t you need to be somewhere Monday night?” That’s good for me. That’s an external accountability too.

Then with the club members, my goal is really to develop positive and mutually fulfilling relationships. They seem like a really nice group of people.

Then, in terms of systems, I do have to understand that there is a minimum operational commitment of time. I know at minimum I’m looking at two hours every two weeks and then for the Pathways or the work that I’m doing with the club. It’s to learn this public speaking. I’m estimating right now about eight hours per project. This is something I’m going to keep an eye on.

And then there are minimum costs that will come out operationally. There is annual dues. I’m involved with a community dinner club and one of the ways that they’re able to maintain that room in this restaurant is that they encourage us to get dinner. I need to make sure I budget for dinner every two weeks.

I’ve done my short term and I’ve done my long term and even though it took me longer to explain, the process took about five minutes. Typically I’ll sleep on it, and then go back to it and then I decide, yes/no, do I want to do the thing? This is a yes/no decision. In this case, the answer was obviously yes. Onto the next round.

Once I have determined that it’s a yes, the next thing that I need to do is think about what I have, what resources I have to work with already, and then what I need to do and what I need.

Again, these resources are in all four quadrants and I’m going to start in the I quadrant again. This really talks to internal resourcing and me and my mindset. The big thing that is really good in terms of what I’ve already got is that I’m not going in there petrified of public speaking, which is good. I have had stage fright and it’s not a lot of fun. The one thing that is really important is that I do not get complacent. One of the reasons why I’m in there is to improve my public speaking, going in there going, “Oh yeah, I’ve done this for 20 years.”That’s not gonna help. I really need to maintain beginner’s mind.

Another thing that does help me is – if you’ve ever read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, one of them is fundamentally I do what I say what I’m going to do. I’m true to my word. If I tell them that I’m going to serve as grammarian, which is one of the roles that they have in the meeting, then I can trust because I’ve done this for a long time as a practice that I’ve got a 95 percent chance that I’m going to do what I say what I’m going to do, irregardless, unless I’m really sick and contagious or dying. We can argue about how healthy that is. It’s been a mindset that has really helped me over the years more than it hurt me.

In terms of resources I have from others, people with the roles and skills that can help support me, I have a supportive partner who does encourage me to get out more, which I am eternally grateful for. And my dad was actually a former Toastmasters member. When I was a kid he participated for a few years, so he has a little bit of subject matter expertise. Also, he’s been the one who tells me I mumble too much – usually at the dinner table. He’s a really good person to get feedback from.

Then in terms of We – the resources I have. Ryan,again. I just need to make sure that we maintain our lines of communication. And, thankfully, I’ve been involved in some really fantastic online communities and professional communities and some of the speeches that I’m planning to give as part of my toastmasters projects are very much centered around the professional work I’ve been doing over the years. They’re able to provide feedback on content and have offered to. I do intend on taking advantage of their offer because even though these are Toastmasters projects, I think they’re important and I’d like to be able to provide value to them by being as accurate as I can be.

And then in terms of resources, I’ve got so much material for speeches. I am incredibly fortunate that I’ve spent 20 some odd years doing stuff and so I’ve got a pretty good library of topics. I do have video, I’ve been doing online video for a long time. I’ve been doing my speeches as dress rehearsals by filming them first, much like this. I’ve got all the materials for that. Actually that reminds me – part of what I need to ask is whether or not they’re cool with me filming my next speech.

Money. Thankfully I also have enough money to cover costs right now. I do need to keep an eye on this. I do have a community toastmasters group nearby. I have noticed that a lot of the groups in this area tend to be affiliated with organizations. I don’t know what it’s like nationally right now. The fact that there is a community group nearby where their meeting is pretty easily accessible to me, particularly since I’d have to drive around during rush hour around here, is really awesome.

Finally I’m looking at things I need to be successful. In this case with Toastmasters, I need to really maintain beginner’s mind. I’m going to get in big trouble if I don’t maintain a level of humility about this. I need to improve my public speaking. I need to improve my extemporaneous speaking. I can learn a lot from others who have been practicing and have been actively working on their public speaking. Yes, I’ve done this for a long time, but I also can get better. And I can do so by maintaining beginner’s mind, that’ll do me a world of good.

There’s a belief I need to maintain, mostly about being able to become great public speaker and coach the coaching things new to me. I’ve managed drift for probably too many years by just doing the public speaking and not really working on getting good at it.

Then a mindset of maintaining openness to feedback and realizing that they are looking out for me and want me to improve. Now I know in many environments that’s not always the case, this one it is. If I was going into it new, I know they have free meetings where they invite guests and one of the things that I’ve really looked out for is how supportive are they with each other. It was very important to me that I found a group that was very, very focused on supporting each other. I can trust it that is accurate.

In terms of other people, what I need from my partner is encouragement. I do need to find an accountability partner, a coach, someone in the organization. I’m learning more in terms of what the club members are expecting from me and from each other. It does take time to embed in the community and it takes time to make friends. This is something that I just need to keep an eye on and just ask questions if I don’t understand something and just observe. You can learn a lot by observing the norms in any community.

Then in terms of how I interact with other people. Ryan, I’m going to use for feedback, also encouragement and I just need to ask him for encouragement. The online communities, again, I need to ask and then be open to the response. I’m going to wind up putting myself out there quite a bit over the next year as I go through this particular journey.

These are the resources, like the material resources in the system, resources that I need to put together. One is I just need to sit down and block the schedule. I’ve already done it for the meetings. I have not done it for speeches and I need to determine a cadence for when I intend to do projects. There’s a balance that I need to set. I don’t want to always be going up there speaking. I do want to spend some time in some of the other meeting roles and I’m sure they’d be very tired of hearing from me if every single meeting I went up there and spoke. I do also need to figure out what the formal expectations are. I know some of them, but not all of them.

And make time for that, both learning about it and doing what I need to do to fill those roles. I also need to get a better understanding of the participation structure. I need to get a better understanding of providing feedback and speech writing and what those norms are. After evaluating their materials, it’s pretty apparent to me that they are doing best practices. I just need to get clear on that. Practice it, get good.

This is my case study for joining a group. If you have any questions, comments, feedback about this video, please feel free to leave comments in the video comments or on the blog post where I’m also putting in the transcript for this video. Thank you so much for your time. I hope this helps.


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