New Year and New Next Steps


As you know, Doris and I took some time off to reimagine the Women’s Learning Studio, reset our goals, and determine what, if any, the WLS future holds. Being the eternal optimists we are, with a dose of pragmatism thrown in, we are embarking on a new WLS adventure with a more narrowly targeted focus (we hope!) that we will share with you soon.

Part of our journey to restart our journey involved reflecting on our learning – from our WLS experience so far, and as the lifelong learning junkies we are. We are going to re-start our blog, posting about twice a month, to document our learning and to get back into the habit of regular reflection and sharing. As we have said before, blogs are a great way to reflect and share!

Doris will post her learning in another blog soon, but here are my three biggest ahas from this time of WLS dormancy, the work I do as a consultant, mediator, and facilitator, and from the events of the past several months. Please contact us and we’ll add your three biggest learnings – we’d love to hear them!

Expand the Diversity of My Networks Even As I Cut Them Back

 Doris and I have previously blogged about personal learning networks (for example, see Personal Learning is in Your Future; Your Destiny? Personal Learning, Networks, and Working Out Loud). To expand my personal learning network, I follow a good number of people’s blogs, tweets, instagrams, or other social media. However, I find that my Hootsuite, which I use as my social media aggregator, is clogged with feeds that I peruse when I can but never seem to catch up on. When I do read complete content or reflection posts, I follow the links in them that interest me and sign up for more RSS feeds if I like what I am led to. So my networks keep growing, but my ability to read, digest, and reflect on content does not.

I also noticed that I was mining those of like minds to me, not getting a good cross section of views, opinions, and facts. I do follow leaders in the field I admire and trust, but don’t follow those who may have different points of view or values.

Apparently, as a woman I am not alone in this. In the Huffington Post article by Marilyn Nagel from NQuotient entitled Women Network Differently then Men and It Hinders Our Advancement, she states:

Women in general tend to have smaller networks of deeper relationships, choosing to only have people in their network who share their value …

 Learning: pare down my network but increase its diversity while making sure all of the resources I read, use, and quote are reliable (a great resource to use is the Google doc created by Howard Rheingold, who coined the term crap detection as one of his identified digital literacies. Read our blog about it). I want to spend more time absorbing and reflecting, and less time grazing.

Burst My “Bubble”

After this election I realized I live in a bubble of my own making. Not only do I follow those whose work I value, admire, and agree with in my work sphere, but also in my life sphere. I am a liberal, and read online news, newspapers, and magazines that reinforce my point of view. I am not looking to change my beliefs, but am looking to understand those who don’t share them.

This was brought home to me in a web conversation sponsored by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), the professional mediation association. The conversation was entitled “Post 2016 US Election Conversation, Part 1”. It was facilitated by two eminent dispute resolution professionals, Bernie Mayer from the Werner Institute of Creighton University School of Law, and Sharon Press from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

What was so valuable to me about this was not that Mayer and Press stated their reaction to the election, which, like mine, was one of shock, fear, and uncertainty facing minority populations and religions in this country, but the professionals on the call who had opposing views to this and were happy about the election outcome. In an open, respectful, and thoughtful way we examined each other’s viewpoints, and talked about what we all could do to minimize the conflict and divide that has been exacerbated since November 9, support those living in fear, and reach out to each other to share learning and offer support. Part 2 of the conversation is in the works, and I’m hoping for many more subsequent ones.

Learning: As in my work life, I want to expand the diversity of my personal network. I do have friends and acquaintances with very different points of view and beliefs from me, but we choose not to discuss our differences. I hope to find a way to respectfully hear them, and have them do the same for me. The ACR conversation showed me that I was stereotyping those that didn’t vote as I had, and although the participants of that conversation were not going to change each other’s positions, we were able to find a way to move forward and try to do some good. It highlighted how I must watch my prejudice and bias and remain open to others. This conversation was a perfect example of what I have blogged about: team diversity leads to better ideas, actions, and outcomes. Time for me to practice what I preach!

Enjoy the Downturn

When I’m in Florida, I can’t mediate as there is no reciprocity for credentials. I can’t transfer my mediation certification from Maine to Florida. So between Doris and I taking some time to think about our WLS direction and no mediations to do, I actually had down time to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather, be outdoors, go for beach walks, tend my garden, play with my dogs, and greet the many birds that I cross paths with every day.

In other words, I actually had some externally enforced work-life balance and liked it!

Learning: Being outdoors and connected to nature is important to me and improves my mental and physical outlook. Having the time to be fully present without the mental lists that dominate my work life was freeing. Even though I am busier now, I am determined to make sure I enjoy nature to recharge myself several times each day.

I came across this TED talk and have been watching it as a tonic, inspirational message, reminder, and just to enjoy it. Hope you do, too.

Have a wonderful New Year!

Resources used for this blog:

Howard Rheingold, Resources for Crap Detection, Google document:

Marilyn Nagel, Women Network Differently than Men and It Hinders Our Advancement, Huffington Post, October 7, 2016:

Louie Schwartzberg, Gratitude TEDxSF talk, June 2011:

Photos from the talented artists at Pixabay

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