Friday, January 15, 2010

Long Overdue Random Brain Dump

Made an important baby step towards greater acceptance of "fun" and "games" in my eLearning tutorials.

Behold! My tutorial doppelganger!



Thank you South Park Character Creator.

Thus far, the tutorial I created with these characters have gotten rave reviews.

Best comment that came back to me was from the director 3 levels up (1 step below the Main Muck)

Not only was that fun, but I GOT IT!!!!

If THAT'S not a ringing endorsement for what I do, I don't know what is.

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I'm finding that the merging of professional and personal within my network is improving the quality of life.

- The valuable conversations I've been having (via voice and social media, probably to be followed by a face-to-face sometime soon) with BJ and Aaron regarding goals and growth.

- Personal friends from the wayback machine who use their professional expertise to help me solve problems. Yes, the same people I did beer bongs with back in the day. It's pretty satisfying to realize that we have (despite ourselves) managed to amount to something.

I am very grateful and never cease to be amazed at the richness of my network.

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Yesterday, I spent quality time at the gym working on snatches.

Here's a video to give you idea of what I was trying to do.

Jon, the coach for the session, watched the most spectacular failure yet as I attempted to lift 52lbs (absolutely NOTHING compared to what most of the beasts in the gym do) and found myself flat on my back with the barbell slowly rolling towards the front of the gym.

I expected to be more mortified as I lay on the floor staring at the ceiling and wondering how I got there. The way Jon saw it, there was a lot of positive to take away from the spectacular failure.

- I was getting under the bar quickly.

- The form was better than I had thought. Apparently, I was keeping the barbell close to the body. This is a good thing and a problem I've been having with all of my olympic lifts.

- The fact that I was working on a movement that scares me and allowing failure was a step in the right direction. Jon knows that all of the overhead moves scare the heck out of me. 7 months into this craziness and I'm only slightly more comfortable than I was when I started. At least I know the vocabulary now. A process that only took 3 months.

Remember - it's a process. And the lift is very technical. Plus it's scary to have that much weight over your head.

Powerful words coming from a man who qualified for Nationals last year.

And though that day was not one of my better workouts (by a longshot), I took more away from it than I have in a long time.
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Still thinking about goals and have come to the conclusion that this may be the year to focus on the personal.

That said, one word keeps coming up as I think about my professional development.

Design.

Not just "Instructional" design - but aesthetics. Elegant solutions.

I'm gonna toy with that for a bit.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Massive Change through Micro-movements

Over the past 6 months, I've been working on mastering pullups. Specifically - Kipping Pullups. To give you an idea of what I am talking about - Again Faster has some great instructional videos.
Part 1 - The Kipping Pullup
Part 2 - The Kipping Pullup

Six months ago - I couldn't do ANYTHING resembling a pullup. So I've been practicing.

- Bought a pullup bar and put it in a door in a high traffic area. When I pass the bar, I do a pullup (or, in the early stages, TRY to do a pullup).

- Practically every time I was at the gym, I would make some effort during warmups to do a pullup, even if it wasn't on the official warm up schedule or in the workout.

After about 3 months of practically daily activity - I managed to get my first non-assisted, dead-hang pullup.

Hooray!

Broke the next stage down into new micromovements.

- At the pullup bar - I worked on getting more than 1 pullup, full chin over bar.

- Practically every time at the gym - I also worked on stringing together 2 pullups.

After a month, I got 2 dead hang pullups in a row. One more month, 3 dead hang pullups.

Hooray!

Some of the PCF coaches (Aaron, Brian, Curtis and Jon) noticed I was quietly in my little corner of the bars working on pullups. One day - Curtis gave me an exercise.

- At the pullup bar at home - do as many pullups as possible without stopping when I pass the bar.

- Every time I was at the gym, I did Curtis' exercise.

One week later, I talked to Brian who gave me 2 more exercises.

- At the pullup bar at home - do as many pullups as possible without stopping. I'm up to 10 jumping pullups and about 4 dead-hang.

- Every time I am at the gym, I work on Brian's exercises - as well as make an attempt to string it all together.

I'm now up to 5 really ugly kipping pullups. No support bands, no jumping.

I still have work to do - but I am much closer to the goal than I was 6 months ago.
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How didn't I learn how to do a pullup? By just watching the 2 videos.

The real education came through the daily practice and modification of that practice as needed to work towards the goal.
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Any time I've seen big change happen is through tiny, daily micro-movements performed by individuals. I'm seeing it right now as the organization lurches from a culture of "Telephone" towards more direct communication between people and levels.

1)An individual decides to go talk directly to another individual rather than talking to his boss who will then talk to the other person's boss about an issue.

2)The individual and his or her contact are NOT PUNISHED for the activity by their respective bosses.

3)The individuals try talking to each other directly again and see whether #2 happens again.

4)Both individuals are STILL NOT PUNISHED for the activity.

The decision of the boss to not punish the person for talking to someone directly is a small, daily decision. The repetition of the behavior from the boss is what helps make the change stick with the individuals.

Another pair of individuals try the same activity. If all goes well - with the same results.

One individual attempts to talk directly to a mucky muck outside of a formal "Talk to the Mucky Muck" session. If all goes well - with the same results.

Eventually, you have culture change as more individuals talk directly with each other and get things done without punishment.

The grand announcement that "We are going to be a flatter organization!!!" is not driving the actual change. A "training event" is not driving the change. A collection of online tutorials on communication is not driving the change. Even the "Talk to the Mucky Muck" session will have little impact on the change.

Small, tentative, individual actions practiced on a regular basis will drive the change.

Monday, January 04, 2010

What do I want to do next?

I've hit a point where I am just too satisfied with my career.
- I work with great people
- I'm really comfortable with my current skillset
- There doesn't seem to be any demand to expand my current skillset
- I have no ambition, aspiration or desire to present at conferences
- I don't want to go into management
- I have nothing that will keep me motivated through 4 more years of school

So now what?

I'm kicking around learning more about developing mobile tools - but I need to find an appropriate project. Nothing I have on deck really fits.

Do I look for a problem to fit the solution?

I would also like to improve my web development and interface design chops. We already have a set template for our web site and others have control over content.

Maybe its time to start a new portfolio?

I can't tell whether these "goals" are over-ambitious, not ambitious enough or miss the mark completely. It feels like I am grasping at straws because as I write these goals, it seems like my heart just isn't into accomplishing these things.

Should I even worry about this?