The Art of Strengths Coaching

L is for Logging What You Learn In Life

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Different people use different methods for making sense of what happens in life.

Some immerse themselves in what is happening. Some describe what is happening. Some record their experiences on the journey – a bit like a Captain’s log – and apply the lessons in the future. They also pass on knowledge to other people.

Imagine that you want to do this in your own way. You may choose to keep a diary, use journaling techniques, write a blog, keep a development journal or whatever.

Looking back at some of my work with people, for example, I invited them to keep something called My Right Book.

This was an approach I used when working with young people, soccer players and others who wanted to develop. The person was invited to record the following things.

My Right Book

What I Have Done Well

The specific things I have done
well in the past week have been:

*

*

*

The specific things I can do to follow
these principles more in the future are:

*

*

*

What I Can Do Better

The specific things I can do
better in the future and how are:

*

*

*

This looks a simple exercise, but it helped people to develop the habit of continuous improvement. They were able: a) To build on their strengths; b) To tackle areas for improvement. They continued to grow as people and professionals.

Looking back on your life, how have you made sense of events? You may have reflected by yourself, talked things over with friends, kept a journal or used other tools to clarify your experience.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe what you have done in the past to log and learn from what you have experienced in life.

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How can you share what you learn in the future? What would be the best way for you to take this step?

Different people choose different ways to pass on their experience. Previously they may have written articles or given speeches. Today they also write blogs, post videos and use other media to share knowledge.

People sometimes use blogs to share their journeys through illness. Such blogs take different forms. Some describe the emotional journey. Some provide information for people who may encounter similar experiences.

People sometimes chronicle their professional journeys. Looking back, I learned from books such as Virginia Axline’s Dibs In Search Of Self, George Dennison’s The Lives of Children and Herbert Kohl’s 36 Children. These all described the daily work of encouraging young people.

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Writing in the Foreword to George Dennison’s book, which was published in 1969, Susannah Sheffer explains:

The Lives of Children is an account of the two years of The First Street School, a small private school on New York’s lower east side.

The school enrolled twenty-three children, all from lower income families and about half arriving from the public schools with severe learning and behavior problems.

The Lives of Children is a story of what worked, it’s a story of healing and growth, and in many ways it’s a story about not giving up.

Year after year I would return to the book, focusing on ideas that I could use in my own work with young people. George gives a flavour of the approach in the excerpt below. You can discover more via the following link.

http://www.spinninglobe.net/spinninglobe_html/lives.htm

At the same time, I would like to try to account for the fact that almost all of our children improved markedly, and some few spectacularly.

We were obviously doing something right, and I would like to hazard a few guesses at what it might have been.

All instruction was individual, and that was obviously a factor. The improvement I am speaking of, however, was not simply a matter of learning, but of radical changes in character.

Where Vicente had been withdrawn and destructive, he became an eager participant in group activities and ceased destroying everything he touched.

Both Eléna and Maxine had been thieves and were incredibly rebellious. After several months they could be trusted and had become imaginative and responsible contributors at school meetings.

Such changes as these are not accomplished by instruction. They proceed from broad environmental causes.

Here again, details which may seem irrelevant to the business of a school will give the reader an idea of what these causes may have been.

A better way of saying this is that the business of a school is not, or should not be, mere instruction, but the life of the child.

There are many ways to help other people. One approach is to record our experiences and pass on knowledge. You will, of course, have your own approach to making this happen.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking to the future, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to log what you learn in life.

Describe the specific things you can do to, if appropriate, pass on what you learn to other people.

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