4 Phases of Learning. Do you know what they are?

The Four Phases of Learning

By Dr. Tony Alessandra

“The longest journey on earth begins with a single step.” (Anonymous)

 

Can you remember when you first learned how to drive a car? Before you learned how, you were in the “ignorance” stage.  You did not know how to drive the car and you didn’t even know why you didn’t know how to drive it.

When you first went out with an instructor to learn how to drive you arrived at the second phase:  knowledge.  You still couldn’t drive, but because of your new knowledge of the automobile and its parts, you were consciously aware of why you couldn’t.  This is the phase where most seminars leave people.

 

With some practice and guidance, you were able to become competent in driving the car through recognition of what you had to do. However, you had to be consciously aware of what you were doing with all of the mechanical aspects of the car as well as with your body. This third phase is the hardest stage, the one in which your people may want to give up–the “practice” stage.  People experience stress when they implement new behaviors, especially when they initially perform them imperfectly.  They’ll want to revert to the old, more comfortable behaviors, even if those behaviors are less effective.  It’s all right for them to make mistakes at this phase.  In fact, it’s necessary so they improve through practice. Training programs that include role-playing and in-the-field coaching work best at this phase of learning.

Returning to our car analogy, think of the last time that you drove. Were you consciously aware of all of the actions that we mentioned above? Of course not! Most of us, after driving awhile, progress to a level of “habitual performance.”  This is the level where we can do something well and don’t have to think about the steps.  They come “naturally” because they’ve been so well practiced that they’ve shifted to automatic pilot. This final stage is when practice results in assimilation and habit.

This four phased model for learning–ignorance, knowledge, practice and habit–is the recipe for success in learning any new behavior and having it stick.

 

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Gifted? Genius? What’s the difference?

Giftedness versus Genius

 

I’d like to spend a moment looking at this distinction– because it’s basic to how many people see themselves and evaluate their capabilities. But just for a moment, let’s assume that giftedness and genius really are the same thing. In that case, a person who jumps very quickly through the hoops of elementary school should continue jumping for all the years to come. But very often this isn’t what happens.

Do you know if you are gifted?

You see, our perception of giftedness and genius has often depended to some extent on the age of the person we’re considering. Sooner means smarter, in other words. The sooner a child learns to read, or learns to play the piano, or learns to do long division, the more genius-like that child is perceived to be.

There are a couple of things wrong with that perception. First, a number of the world’s all time great geniuses were at first thought to be anything but gifted.

Secondly, it’s by no means the rule that prodigious children turn out to be genius adults. To some extent, this may be because of the extra stresses that are placed on obvious prodigies. A lot is expected of them, and burnout is a frequent consequence. But it’s also possible that many seemingly gifted children aren’t really gifted — or, rather, they’re no more gifted than the boys and girls around them. The fact is, childhood is simply a time when there’s a lot of emphasis on measurement — and it’s also a time when things are pretty easy to measure. Standardized tests are a staple of American education, as they have been for almost fifty years. There are all kinds of instruments for measuring a child’s achievement levels, as well as their innate capacity to reason and to learn. And sometimes there’s a dramatic difference between those two measures. When that difference exists, the concept of the “underachieving child” comes into play. It’s the definition of a child who has unusual potential which is not showing itself in equally unusual achievement.

But at some point, we stop measuring people in the same way. If we kept it up, we would see some things that are obvious to the casual observer, but are rarely documented by the kind of standardized tests that we’re constantly giving to children. Even as casual observers, we see that other often people catch up to the gifteds and the prodigious. The child, who finished his math workbook before everyone else even started, did something impressive — but sooner or later everybody else finished their math workbooks too. Sooner or later, everybody learned to read and to spell. I might mention, in fact, that a huge and very profitable industry has grown up around the idea of giftedness in children, but there’s no such profit motive in the grown up world. Sure, we know there are highly talented adults who don’t access all of their capabilities. Or who don’t get the recognition they deserve. We know that Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime, and that Emily Dickinson only published three poems in her lifetime. Still, there is no readily accepted concept of “underachieving gifted adult”….

We all are the sum of our choices, or are we?

Which is a pity, since I can almost guarantee that that’s exactly what you are. I can virtually assure you that you’re a latent genius…and once you understand what genius really means, I’m certain that you’ll come to agree with me.

The word genius happens to have a very rich heritage. Today we talk about people being geniuses, but in the past people had a genius. Instead of something that you were, genius was something that you possessed, or, that possessed you. For the Romans, the word genius referred to a guardian spirit that protected people throughout the journey of their lives. Every individual was born with a unique genius that looked after them, helped them out of difficulties, and inspired them at crucial moments. At someone’s birthday, the Romans celebrated the birthday of the genius as well as the person. They celebrated the mysterious power with the person as well as the physical human being.

Do you know someone who has been told they are gifted or a genius? What impact has that label been on their lives? Do you think we try and stick our children into certain “boxes” and ask them to be something they may not be?

Let us know what you think in the comment section of this blog. Your thoughts and experiences may serve to help others!

 

Do birthdays bring more knowledge or just another mark of time?

 

Dr. Tony Alessandra has authored 14 books translated into 17 foreign languages, recorded over 50 audio and video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976.  This article has been adapted from Dr. Alessandra’s Nightingale-Conant audio CD series, Secrets of Ten Great Geniuses, available at http://www.alessandra.com/products.asp

 

Genius-Are YOU one? You might be amazed at the answer!

What is Genius?

Paul MacCready is a writer and inventor who has carefully studied genius and the ways people understand that concept. MacCready has evolved several categories of what genius seems to mean, and these can be useful starting point for defining what genius really is.

Genius-Just what does it mean and who has the potential?

In the first category is what Paul MacCready calls the “everyone agrees” geniuses. These people are the great icons of civilization, including Einstein, Leonardo daVinci, Shakespeare, and Michelangelo. Is there anybody who believes Einstein wasn’t a genius? I don’t think so — so this category is for the geniuses who are elected by unanimous consent. These are many of the same people who were mentioned in my own informal research. We’ll have much more to say about them in this session and throughout the program. In fact, most of our models for the various genius categories will be drawn from this group.

MacReady’s second category is the officially designated geniuses. These are the people who have won Nobel Prizes or other highly respected awards. Whether or not we understand what they’ve accomplished, we think of them as geniuses based on their recognition by people who are supposed to know one when they see one.

Do you have to say it to be it?

A third category includes people who haven’t yet gained national or international prominence, but who have done something so remarkable that they seem to be in a different realm from ordinary mortals. Some of these are the prodigy young people I mentioned earlier in this session — students who have won national science contests or gotten perfect scores on standardized tests. Often they’re not the best in the day to day conduct of school or business, but they have some special gift that eventually reveals itself. Quite often, these people are underachievers who struggle with shyness and low self-esteem. Their surprising success is surprising only because they’ve deliberately tried to stay in the background.

I think you can see how each of these three categories seems quite legitimate — but it’s the fourth one that’s really most important for this program. And you may be surprised to learn that the fourth category questions or even completely refutes the other three. Because the fourth category includes everybody. It’s based on the idea that we all have the potential for achievements that are wrongly considered possible for only a few. And there’s plenty of evidence for this. After all, the physical and mental challenges of learning to walk and talk are more difficult than anything we face later in life — yet the vast majority of human beings meet these challenges successfully.

True, it’s been argued that these primary skills are hardwired into our genetic makeup. But there are many things that the genetic argument can’t account for. In the 17th and 18th centuries, for example, it was simply expected that every member of the educated class would be able to read and speak several different languages, write poetry, play a musical instrument, and know much of the Bible by heart. Furthermore, all these skills were performed at a very high level and at very early ages. In other words, thousands of people routinely displayed abilities that today would be considered truly amazing — and perhaps even evidence of genius. But in those days what we call genius was just the fulfillment of society’s expectations.

When we speak of everybody being a genius in this sense, it doesn’t mean everyone has to get 800s on their SATs or have an IQ of 150 or above. It doesn’t mean everybody can play the violin or create beautiful oil paintings. Those are other ways of looking at the concept of genius. But right now, let’s go back to the origin of the word itself. A researcher by the name of Thomas Armstrong has done some excellent work on this. He points out that the word genius is closely related to the word genesis. It comes from Greek and Latin words meaning “beget,” “be born,” or ” come into being.” It’s also related to the word genial, meaning “festive” or “jovial.” In the Middle East, the term has been linked to the word jinni, or genie, the magical power that lay dormant and hidden in Aladdin’s lamp until a secret method released it.

Combining all these roots leads to a very powerful and beautiful definition of genius. It means “giving birth to your joy.” In this sense, genius is a word for an individual’s hidden potential. It also includes the process of discovering that potential and transforming it into action. But the first step is belief. The first step is certainty that you have greater capabilities than you thought. Not only do you have those capabilities — you also have a responsibility to develop them and put them to use.

What do YOU think genius is? Let’s start a discussion in the comments to this blog!

Dr. Tony Alessandra has authored 14 books translated into 17 foreign languages, recorded over 50 audio and video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976.  This article has been adapted from Dr. Alessandra’s Nightingale-Conant audio CD series, Secrets of Ten Great Geniuses, available at http://www.alessandra.com/products.asp

Communicate Effectively Through Your Wardrobe

Make your wardrobe work for you

Often we acquire our clothes haphazardly—a sale item or an impulse buy here, a Christmas gift there—without much thought as to how they fit our image, or even if they match each other. In fact, you’ve probably seen folks who’ve expanded their wardrobe only to hobble themselves by wearing a plaid shirt with a striped tie, or to go overboard with jewelry that clatters and clangs when they walk. In other words, unless you know how to put it all together, you can improve your wardrobe but still project a poor image and not be able to communicate effectively who you are. So make sure your colors, patterns, and accessories are complementary, not clashing.

Do you communicate who you are by the way you dress?

Most of us have at least one or two outfits that make us feel especially good when we’re wearing them. We tend to save those for special occasions. But why not try to increase that number to three, four, or more such outfits and, thus, try to make a particularly good impression every day? Communicate who you are!

If you’re vague about what you look best in, consult a friend or co-worker whose taste you admire, or go to a wardrobe consultant. They often spot things that you’d look good in but probably wouldn’t consider trying on.

A wardrobe consultant may sound like a costly luxury. But many times their advice is free if you buy clothes from them, and some will even shop for you at an hourly rate, which can save a lot of time. Combine that time savings with greater selection and the likelihood of a superb fit, and it all may add up to a terrific value.

Communicate effectively by dressing for success and you will stand out!

THE PLATINUM RULE-WHAT IS IT AND HOW DOES IT APPLY TO YOU?

The Platinum Rule

We have all heard of the Golden Rule-and many people aspire to live by it. The Golden Rule is not a panacea. Think about it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated. The alternative to the Golden Rule is the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Ah hah! What a difference. The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.”

A Modern Model for Chemistry

The goal of The Platinum Rule is personal chemistry and productive relationships. You do not have to change your personality. You do not have to roll over and submit to others. You simply have to understand what drives people and recognize your options for dealing with them. The Platinum Rule divides behavioral preferences into four basic styles: The Director, Socializer, Relater, and Thinker. Everyone possesses the qualities of each style to various degrees and everyone has a dominant style. For the sake of simplicity, this article will focus only on dominant styles.

Directors

Directors are driven by two governing needs: to control and achieve. Directors are goal-oriented go-getters who are most comfortable when they are in charge of people and situations. They want to accomplish many things-now-so they focus on no- nonsense approaches to bottom-line results. Directors seek expedience and are not afraid to bend the rules. They figure it is easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Directors accept challenges, take authority, and plunge headfirst into solving problems. They are fast-paced, task-oriented, and work quickly and impressively by themselves, which means they become annoyed with delays. Directors are driven and dominating, which can make them stubborn, impatient, and insensitive to others. Directors are so focused that they forget to take the time to smell the roses.

Socializers

The Socializer’s primary strengths are enthusiasm, charm, persuasiveness, and warmth. They are friendly and enthusiastic and like to be where the action is. They thrive on the admiration, acknowledgment, and compliments. They are idea-people who excel at getting others excited about their vision. They are eternal optimists with an abundance of charisma; qualities that help them influence people and build alliances to accomplish their goals. Socializers care less about winning or losing than how they look while playing the game. As wonderful as Socializers may sound, they do have their weaknesses: impatience, an aversion to being alone, and a short attention span—they become bored easily. Socializers are risk-takers who base many of their decisions on intuition, which is not inherently bad. When given only a little data, however, Socializers tend to make sweeping generalizations. Some of them are, therefore, exaggerators. Socializers are not inclined to do their homework or check out information. They are more likely to assume someone else will do it.
Thinkers

Thinkers are analytical, persistent, systematic people who enjoy problem solving. Thinkers are detail-oriented, which makes them more concerned with content than style. Thinkers are task- oriented people who enjoy perfecting processes and working toward tangible results. They’re always in control of their emotions and may become uncomfortable around people who very out-going, e.g., Socializers. Thinkers have high expectations of themselves and others, which can make them over-critical. Their tendency toward perfectionism–taken to an extreme–can cause “paralysis by over- analysis.” Thinkers are slow and deliberate decision-makers. They do research, make comparisons, determine risks, calculate margins of error, and then take action. Thinkers become irritated by surprises and glitches, hence their cautious decision-making. Thinkers are also skeptical, so they like to see promises in writing.

Relaters

Relaters are warm and nurturing individuals. They are the most people-oriented of the four styles. Relaters are excellent listeners, devoted friends, and loyal employees. Their relaxed disposition makes them approachable and warm. They develop strong networks of people who are willing to be mutually supportive and reliable. Relaters are excellent team players. Relaters are risk-averse. In fact, Relaters may tolerate unpleasant environments rather than risk change. They like the status quo and become distressed when disruptions are severe. When faced with change, they think it through, plan, and accept it into their world. Relaters–more than the other types–strive to maintain personal composure, stability, and balance. In the office, Relaters are courteous, friendly, and willing to share responsibilities. They are good planners, persistent workers, and good with follow-through. Relaters go along with other seven when they do not agree because they do not want to rock the boat. Relaters are slow decision-makers for several reasons: 1) their need for security; 2) their need to avoid risk; 3) their desire to include others in the decision-making process.

The Platinum Rule provides powerful life-skills that will serve you well in all your relationships: business, friends, family, spouse, and children.

Find out how The Platinum Rule can work for you!

 

Interruptions-How good are you are dealing with them?

Learn to manage interruptions

Managers are especially torn by trying to be both accessible and productive. They want to be modern, sensitive bosses who will hear out customer complaints and employee problems—but they also have planning to do, projects to complete, paperwork to handle, goals to meet, and higher-ups to satisfy.

Here are some techniques for striking a balance:

•           The telephone, Alec Mackenzie suggests, is one of the biggest time wasters. He gives several strategies for dealing with interrupting phone calls, such as call screening, voice mail, and the like. But perhaps the simplest solution is to put a three-minute egg timer on your desk. When the sand runs out, you know to call a halt diplomatically to all but the most critical of calls.

•           An open-door policy is fine, but it can destroy your efficiency if taken too far. Roger Dawson, in 13 Secrets of Power Performance, offers numerous ways to lessen drop-in visitors. One, arrange your office so you aren’t readily visible and thus a target for people passing by with time on their hands. Another, set a block of time—usually early in the workday or near the end—when employees do a lot of socializing, and make that your official “closed-door” period when you can hole up and not feel guilty.

•           Go to lunch at an odd hour, say 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. Not only, Dawson believes, will you get a better table and service at the restaurant, you’ll be working when everyone else is out to lunch. Thus, your productivity will soar

 

Dr. Tony wants to know how you cope with interruptions. Comment on this blog and let us know your way of dealing with them.

BIG TASKS MADE SMALLER-YOU CAN WORK IT OUT!

MAKING BIG TASKS SMALLER
A great trick for reaching your goals is knowing how to break large tasks into smaller ones. Or, as is sometimes said, you can eat an elephant, but only by taking one bite at a time.

I use the word chunking to describe this process. For instance, when I landed a contract to write my first book, Non-Manipulative Selling, I had six months to write it. On my “To Do” list every day of those six months was: Write book.

Six months went by, no book. The publisher gave me another three months. For three more months Write book appeared daily on my “To Do” list. Still no book. Finally, the publisher gave me a final three months, or else I’d lose the contract.

Fortunately, Karl Albrecht, author of Service America, gave me the concept of “chunking.” He asked me how many pages I had to write. Answer: 180. How many days to write it? Answer: 90. So he told me that every day my “To Do” list should contain this note: Write 2 pages of book. I must write two pages. If I got on a roll, I could write four or five. But the next day, I still had to write a minimum of two. By following his advice, I finished the book in thirty days!

A final technique for managing your goals comes from Dr. John Lee, author, speaker, and time-management expert. He says when a new task pops up, or an old one resurfaces, apply one of the four D’s: Drop it , Delegate it , Delay it , or Do it . Consciously choosing one of those strategies every time you face a task will keep things progressing smoothly.