How to take charge of your learning and development

During several years, I have engaged in Harold Jarche’s Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM), especially via his PKM workshop. It has helped me not only to revise my methods on how to understand the world. It has also placed me in the driver’s seat regarding how I seek information, make sense of it, and lastly share it. A clear example is my e-book “How to avoid information overload using social media tools: Steps to feeling calmer and smarter.” It outlines the practical steps you can take to master the flow of information via Twitter, blogs, and other social media channels. I needed to make sense of these tools myself, so I might as well write a book about it.

Why I do this? Well, the world is developing very quickly, and you need to know whom to listen to in today’s vast oceans of information. Also, I never expect my employer to take care of all my learning needs and neither should you. Yes, they send me to an excellent management training over nine months in line with our cultural cornerstones, but I can never expect them to take care of all my daily learning needs.

Moreover, who knows what you will work with and where in just a few years from now? Just look at the quick changes in several markets and the heavy focus on machine learning, blockchain, and robotics. Instead of waiting for others, just make up your mind and take charge.

Recently, I thought I should level up my learning and development even more, so I ordered How to become a Modern Professional Learner by Jane Hart. I have followed Jane’s work on top tools for learning and more, and now I decided to be even more guided by her work. Her e-book begins with the 10 Principles of Modern Professional Learning, where the first principle reads:

Take responsibility for your own self-improvement, learning, and development.

For each of the 100 practical things we shall do to improve as learners, we can access an online discussion forum where we answer Jane’s questions and exchange thoughts. I find this deeply rewarding, just as I do Harold Jarche’s workshops. I will tell you more once I have come further in Jane’s book, and sure hope to surprise myself with how I develop.

Reinventing ourselves: Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, and Constructive Developmental Theory

The last six months I have made it a habit to read and listen to the books and podcasts from Tim Ferriss and James Altucher, and then apply some of their ideas. For example, Tim’s book “Tools of Titans” contains a tremendous number of tricks and tips to live smarter, while James’ books in the Choose Yourself series helps you build a stronger foundation for everything in life.

Meanwhile, via Lee Bryant and PostShift, I have been introduced to the Quantified Organization relating to the Quantified Self.  Instead of guessing if we are making progress or not, we can measure if we are or not. On a personal level, it happens via apps, habits, smartwatches and more, and on an organizational level we use KPIs of all sorts.

It is, however, hard to measure if you are progressing in your personal development. Many of the tips coming from Tim’s and James’ podcasts and books feel great, but then I wonder if I can measure if I am progressing or not. Then it struck me that I might as well practice ‘idea sex’ as James puts it. By combining the advice from James and Tim with a theory like Constructive Developmental Theory, I might gain some clarity. This is a half-baked idea, but that’s ok: I learned from Harold Jarche that a great way to develop your own thinking is by releasing such ideas into the open. Then others can react, and we can continue building our collective knowledge.

I first heard about John Kegan’s Constructive Developmental Theory when reading about change, and especially why some people never want to change. Fast Company wrote about it when mentioning the mind-set we need to succeed in the future, and linked to Future Trends in Leadership Development (PDF) from the Center of Creative Leadership. Then Ana Cristina Campos Marques Curitiba clarified all of Robert Kegan’s five levels in her post on Constructive Developmental Theory:

  1. The Impulsive Mind: The first stage is what mainly characterizes the behavior of children.
  2. Instrumental Mind: The human being has only one perspective, his own.
  3. The Socialized Mind: Such a stance tends to be reliant on authority for direction and less likely to question, making one a loyal follower.
  4. The Self-Authoring Mind: Guided by their own internal compass, such a person becomes subject to his own ideology. These individuals tend to be self-directed, independent thinkers.
  5. The Self-Transforming Mind: This multi-frame perspective is able to hold the contradictions between competing belief systems and is therefore subject to the dialectic between systems of thought.

No matter if such levels are true or not, they can work as mental models. I find that the ideas presented via Tim’s and James’ books and podcasts urge us to move up the above ladder. By adopting the best tips and tricks and habits, we can move from being loyal followers who don’t question anything, over to self-directed thinkers and then self-transforming minds. It is almost as if we in this later stage can hold ourselves in our hand and objectively analyze what is best for this person.

As Jay Barbuto puts it in this video, at this level we are no longer the prisoners of our own identity. Instead, we see all the different nuances and possibilities and can reinvent ourselves.

So there we have it: By merging great ideas from people like James and Tim and their guests with developmental theories, we can reinvent ourselves. A great start for a new way of life.

My new morning routine, thanks to Tim Ferriss

Ever since I read Tim Ferriss’ book “Tools of Titans”, I have started to change how I live. One such thing is my morning routine. Before the book, it was the standard semi-haze, trying to eat, shower, and read the newspaper before waking the kids. Now I do the following every morning:

  1. Yoga for my back and overall mobility. Takes a few minutes, but helps me avoid the back pain I have suffered from since before.
  2. Drink Pu-Erh black tea with coconut oil. A wonderful way of starting each day, instead of the strong jolt of caffeine from coffee.
  3. Meditate 10-15 minutes using the app. A great way of putting things into perspective.
  4. Write in my 5-minute journal to set the goals for today. You will be amazed at the direction life gets already in the morning when you know what the three most important things are.
  5. Make my bed. As described below, such a minute thing actually helps.

Even if the rest of the day becomes a hectic mess, I at least had a great start and a focus. Highly recommended! Below, you can read more about how Tim starts each day, fetched from Business Insider.

“The 4-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss breaks down this morning routine that primes him for his day.

Source (incl. the image): ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ author has a 5-part morning routine to maximize his productivity – Business Insider Nordic

Change – this time it is personal

I have written before on change management, and especially how it has failed to support companies. But that’s change on the macro level. Now it’s time for changing myself. I started the year by reading Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss.

If you ever thought about changing your life for real, then read this book now. It has nearly no quick solutions. Instead, it has smart solutions. Really smart solutions. I have already started to meditate, planned my finances better, drinking wonderful teas, and building a stronger body. Gladly, many others such as Michelle Ockers are reading this book as well, and I look forward to many interesting ideas.

Thank you, Tim Ferriss, for all the time and effort spent to create this book. The rest is up to us.

Grow new habits with liminal thinking

I just discovered that I could grow new habits with liminal thinking, and it has already changed how I see things. By reading Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray, I was not only presented with tools to change my view of the world. Through reading this book, I also re-opened the door to the world of philosophy. Far too many have asked why I started my academic road studying practical philosophy and even asked me how philosophy can be practical. Well, those ideas can govern your whole world, and that is why you win from paying attention to such ideas.

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limit of the world.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

The subheading of Dave’s book, “Create the change you want by changing the way you think,” stays very close to what Schopenhauer expresses above. Please note, however, that we are not talking about the over-optimistic, happy-happy, you-can-do-it mentality so prevalent in so-called self-help books. Instead, we are talking about the fabrics of life: If we learn to challenge our beliefs, judgments, theories, and more, we can lead a different kind of life than we are used to. By learning to work with the liminal space between what we experience as reality and the “obvious” way we think the world works, we can move our minds and bodies to places we never thought of before.

Dave explains the principles and practices of liminal thinking in a clear and entertaining way in this book. I recommend it to anyone interested in finding new paths to walk. And remember, again, what Father Zosima told Fyodor Karamazov after this depraved and muddleheaded family father made a fool of himself in Zosima’s cell:

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, from the Brothers Karamazov

Yes, stop lying to yourself about how the world works. Instead, challenge how you view it. Please take the time to read Dave’s excellent book, and then head over to the Liminal Thinking site to continue the conversation. Thank you, Dave, for writing this book.

Mapping the Neo-Generalist in you

“The neo-generalist wanderer often has to adapt to contextual shifts and reinvent themselves when circumstances call for it.” (from The Neo-Generalist)

Recently, I finished reading an excellent book called “The Neo-Generalist,” with the Zen-like subtitle “Where You Go Is Who You Are.” Kenneth Mikkelsen and Richard Martin wrote this book – two authors that clearly have wandered between specializations, and learned a lot from it.

The book hits a current issue right on the head: Hiring managers and HR departments still focus most of their efforts on finding specialists. It seems to be the default view for everything. We have an issue here – let’s call in an expert! It is reminiscent of kids’ cartoons – the problems there are always clear, and a specialist can always solve them. As in Paw Patrol – they can dig, fly, stop traffic, pour water on fire, and more, focusing on one thing each to save the city over and over. But, as it turns out, the world is more complicated than that, and our work should follow. Yes, the world still needs specialists, of course. Meanwhile, there is a significant need to highlight the serial specialists/neo-generalists too. People who can draw experience from several different professional areas, and merge them into something new. For many of us, this is how we know we can bring value to the world, and we should nurture this. In one sense, it is like saying yes to the open, childlike curiosity we all have had at some point:

“Throughout our early lives we talk about what we want to be when we grow up. Then middle age hits and there is a slow realisation and gradual acceptance that, actually, we never grow up. The potential, the opportunity, remains to be many things.” (from The Neo-Generalist)

It might be that you have experience from different professional areas, and want to support all your skills and interests. One way of making this understanding more concrete can be to create a simple map of who you are as a neo-generalist. This way of thinking is fully in line with the Personal Knowledge Mastery ideas I have learned from Harold Jarche – throw out half-baked ideas to see where they land. I will start with myself as an example, based on my interests and experiences:


My current job title is “communications manager,” but I have done many other things earlier in my life: technical writing, Ph.D. studies in educational sciences, writing and producing e-learning, taking care of intranets, and focusing on how new technology can help us evolve the workplace based on a healthy culture. If I place them together, it can be a bit easier to see where my different set of skills can take me. I can see how experiences of various disciplines can merge and support each other. And since I have practiced Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM) for years, I also know which people can help and inspire me for each circle. Yes, this is an experiment, but I like the visual idea of mapping the serial specialist areas to see where they land. Start by looking at yourself right now, and then build a map. In a few years, it will probably change. A good thing that might come out of such an exercise is that you find what makes you unique. As Oscar Wilde said:

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

I highly recommend the book The Neo-Generalist. It has grown on me, gives me new ideas every week, and has awakened a childlike curiosity. Thank you, Kenneth and Richard! I look forward to more discussions going forward.

Influential e-learning and learning people on Twitter

Before I started working as a global intranet editor, I worked as an instructional designer and script writer for web based training for five years. Since then, I have gathered the names of people who are influential within the areas of e-learning and learning. If you are getting started in this professional area, the below list of names can be useful. It is by no means complete – there are so many skilled people working in this area. You will, however, get a good start by following these, and then Twitter will give you further advice on whom to follow.

All these names, and more, are also featured in my own list:

You should also look at people’s lists, where they have listed people within a certain subject. Here are two, for example: