Friday, August 20, 2010

Traveling spirals

Success is not always traveling in a straight line from where we are to somewhere else.  I often warn students that my thought process resembles a spiral, which they may find frustrating.  It's not intentional (the frustration or the thought process) and I've come to understand both the value for me and the confusion for others.  Revisiting the (almost) same concept, data, or assumption from different perspectives over time has allowed me to see new connections, abandon old beliefs, and learn. Though I am capable of delivering a well-planned and sequential presentation, I rarely least not in the classroom.   It's not all that pretty for the uninitiated...or the very organized thinkers...or the compulsive note takers, but it does create the somewhat messy environment in which learning seems to occur.

The current semester--the semester where I will not be in the classroom--was a choice made several months ago in the hope that it would allow me to revisit the (almost) same place next semester.  And, as sometimes happens, being willing to forgo what I wanted has allowed me to reclaim it in a different way.  This semester will be spent managing projects, building relationships (both internal and external), and using the skills I encourage students to develop.  That step away-toward is proving to be a good decision, allowing me to use (perhaps rusty) consulting and management skills and to collaborate with my strategy colleagues on curriculum changes.

Though I already miss the class preparation and planning, the step away-toward is generating new ideas and insights, as well as appreciation both for the respite and for the return.  Traveling in a straight line seems to work well, just not for all of us.

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