It’s All About the Journey, Not the Achievement

I’ve got some news! This week I received recognition as a Certified Virtual Presenter. Not only am I super proud to be recognised in this way, it also gives me a wonderful opportunity to share this story through the metaphor of The Learning Landscape.

Describing my certification as a virtual presenter in the context of a learning journey, highlights that the real achievement is not the certification itself. Like any recognition of this type, the real achievement is the journey, the backstory, that gets you there.

In The Learning Landscape, our learning journey uncovers new knowledge and understandings. As we move through the learning landscape we learn ‘new’ things and we encounter challenges in the form of pits.

But not all challenge pits are the same. Some are easy, downhill challenges that are quickly completed and feel like tasks. Others demand that we perform at our best. But neither of these gain us height in the learning landscape.

In the Learning Landscape, height represents difficulty and complexity. And Learning Challenges demand that we climb just a little higher each time. So, over time, as we succeed at Learning Challenges, we climb higher and higher. We begin to climb towards the summits of the mountains of expertise.

For me, the mountain I choose to climb is one of a Thought Leader in the field of education. The challenges I’ve taken on have been Learning Challenges and have helped me develop ideas and communicate them increasingly effectively to educators around the world.

I’ve tried to live the mantra that I espouse today of ensuring I spend as much of my time as possible getting better, not busy. I make it my habit not to simply learn new things, but rather, to attempt Learning Challenges. These challenges force me to learn in new ways, develop my Habits of Mind, and ultimately help me grow.

Having been an average writer (at best!) in high school, I’ve challenged myself and developed my thinking and communication skills to a standard that’s allowed me to first write regular blogs, and eventually publish three books. And I continue to develop my skills as an author, seeking both guidance and feedback, to write for broader audiences.

Similarly, I have challenged myself to improve the quality of my speaking. If you attended my first workshops 20 years ago, you’d barely recognise the person presenting today! And after 20 years of development, my skills were recognised last year by the Professional Speakers Association when I received my Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation.

And my journey continues today. As educators around the world know, a shift to an online model of teaching and learning has presented even more challenges. My response to that challenge has again been to grow.

Delivering a keynote or workshop online demands more than the repurposing of old skills via a webcam. It demands a new set of skills. Counter to popular belief delivering learning online is not a one-to-many platform. It’s actually a one-to-one platform, many times over.

It’s a much more personal and intimate way of learning. I’m not inviting you in to my conference hall. You’re inviting me into your staffroom, your office, or even your lounge room.

So, this certification is recognition of a place on a journey. It’s a journey as a Thought Leader and educator that started more than 20 years ago. It hasn’t been a journey wondering around the lowlands of the Learning Landscape. It’s been a journey of attempting to scale the heights of the mountains of expertise, of growth and development.

And there’s another side of this that’s worth noting. When you’re in the habit of growth, your best is only your best when you measure by yesterday’s standards. As you continue to grow, your “best” becomes your second best so this recognition simply marks a point in time. It’s already becoming my second best!

As we use the metaphor of the learning landscape with our students, it’s important to ask them:

  • Where is your journey taking you?
  • Did you spend your day, your term, your year wondering the lowlands of the Learning Landscape?
  • Or, did you strike out on a path that sees you taking on Learning Challenges? A path that leads you towards greater expertise.

Keep an eye on my regular blog for announcements about exciting new online and virtual learning opportunities for Growth Mindset, Habits of Mind and The Learning Landscape coming in July! Or contact me directly if you’d like me to virtually visit your school.

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