Friday, January 30, 2009

Good words

Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning. - Igor Stravinsky

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Written on your face

I enjoyed last Wednesday's premiere episode of "Lie to Me," a new TV show that incorporates Paul Ekman's work on microexpressions, the fleeting "tells" we all have that reveal our true feelings for a split second before we cover them over with decorum or deceit.

For a recent Workplace Productions program, I taught some of our interactors about microexpressions, and they're using them intentionally in our live case studies and interactive practice. I think microexpressions probably account for the "shimmering" quality - a sense of real thought and emotion, swiftly changing - that the best actors have. For a phenomenal example, see Frank Langella's brilliant work in Frost/Nixon.

Check out "Lie to Me" tonight at 8:00 CST on Fox broadcast, or see episodes online at the link above. Here's more about microexpressions, and here is a nice video about the universality of facial expression of emotion, featuring Paul Ekman.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Good words

If you hire only those people you understand, the company will never get people better than you are. Always remember that you often find outstanding people among those you don't particularly like. – Soichiro Honda

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Good words

There are years that ask questions and years that answer. - Zora Neale Hurston

Monday, January 19, 2009

Step by step

I'm reading a marvelous little book called My Stroke of Insight. The author, Jill Bolte Taylor, is a Ph.D. neuroanatomist who suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke at the age of 37. She writes about the experience of stroke from the inside, aided by her knowledge of brain structures and science. And she tells the story of her long, slow recovery after losing much of her left-brain functioning, including speaking, understanding language, reading, and virtually all conceptual thinking.

The book is fascinating in many ways, but one of Jill's insights into learning struck me particularly. It's something we probably know, but probably forget all the time: the most productive way to learn is to focus on the step we're working on now. For example, immediately post-stroke, Jill was trying to learn to sit up - a process that began with rocking. She writes,
While in this stage of rocking, I had to recognize that rocking was the only activity that mattered. Focusing my success on the final goal of sitting up was not wise because it was far beyond my current ability. If I had decided that sitting up was the goal, and then tried and failed repeatedly on every trial, I would have been disappointed with my inability and stopped trying....Essentially, I had to completely inhabit the level of ability that I could achieve before it was time to take the next step.
How often do we rush our learners - or ourselves - through necessary stages, trying for a final goal? And how often do we create a sense of failure and discouragement, instead of celebration for small successes?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Good words

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. - Chinese proverb

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Raisin' brain

Fascinating article at The Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer's blog, on the mental effects of intimidation. Seems that when the brain feels overwhelmed by too much choice or competition, it tends to shut down instead of working harder. (And I thought it was just me!)

I'm looking forward to Lehrer's new book, How We Decide, due out next month. Oh, and if you haven't read Paco Underhill's Why We Buy: the Science of Shopping, give it a look. Whether you love shopping or hate to cross a store's threshhold, I predict you'll find lots of insights that may be useful for training design as well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's good words

How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else. – R. Buckminster Fuller