CHAPTER FIVE: REFLECTION AND RENEWAL
Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off, and does something about it that makes a difference—Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari
• Courage to Grow and Change
• Transformational Change
Learning begins again with reflection—if you allow reflection to lead to action. In other words, when learning is applied and assessed (reflected upon), you can expect to find seeds of renewal and chance as you think about what you’ve learned: new ideas, new passions, new possibilities—even new behaviors, like changing hats. Here’s how a hardheaded rationalist might go about adapting a rigid lifestyle into a more flexible (and possibly more creative) one:
Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right‐angle triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses—
As for example, the ellipse of the half moon—
Rationalists would wear sombreros.
—Wallace Stevens (1916)
Courage to Grow and Change
You can view growth and change with apprehension, or you can choose to face both courageously. Annie Dillard (1999) describes the remarkable courage of a person in a tribal mountain village in New Guinea where no contacts with the modern world had been made. It happened in the 1930s when a British officer had flown his small plane into the tribal territory, landing above three thousand feet on a hacked‐open space. When the officer was preparing to take off, one villager cut vines and tied himself to a wing of the plane, explaining that “no matter what happened to him, he had to see where it came from.” Less dramatically, Douglas McGregor’s
(1960) research in organizational management
documented the significant relationship between
motivation and change. He found that workers,
when treated consistently, will accept basic
behavioral assumptions and continue to be defined
by them—rather than seeking change—in order to
have a stable, predictable environment. In other
words, if change is to be meaningful, it must be
sought intentionally; it must be owned. It requires courage. When change is openly engaged, growth
Having the courage to adapt and change is half the inevitably results—allowing boundaries to be broken battle
and a new sense of freedom to be experienced.
Consider the fish when an experimental glass barrier that divided their tank is removed: They are free to move beyond accustomed boundaries to explore areas they could formerly only see but not experience. Consider the butterfly breaking free from its confining cocoon. Consider the potential for learning that lies in untapped areas in the human brain. Learning invites you to be courageous, to tap into these resources, to explore beyond comfortable boundaries. Such exploration can be spontaneous—and often is—because learning opportunities present themselves unexpectedly. But it’s also necessary to examine what motivates you to learn and analyze ways to develop your motivational resources fully. That’s where reflection is useful. Reflection allows you to clarify not only what you’ve learned but also what motivated you to begin a particular learning process. Reflection enables you to burrow into the source of your intentions. When you understand what motivates you to seek change and growth, you can begin to develop a planned approach.
WHY ARE REFLECTION AND PLANNING IMPORTANT?
Perhaps you remember this bizarre conversation in Lewis Carroll’s satirical story Alice in Wonderland (1865):
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
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