Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Lifelong Learner Challenge

Much of my thinking behind this challenge was inspired by Seth Godin's book, Poke the Box.  I also enjoyed a lot of his other book, The Icarus Deception.  (I won a copy from Jeremy Statton's blog, Living Better Stories.)

In both books Godin repeatedly challenges the reader to get started, make things and keep getting better at making them.  I started consciously putting that into practice a year or so ago and I've been encouraged by the results, some of which are these thoughts on teaching like an artist.

Last year I wrote a draft a Lifelong Learner Challenge based on some of the principles of the books.  I'm still shaping it, putting it more in the language consistent with the other things I have on this blog. In the meantime, here's my updated draft.

The Lifelong Learner Challenge

Each month make at least one thing that is:
  • Inspired by something I read  - This implies regular reading, preferably from a book. Give credit throughout the project.
  • New - It must be new to me and to the world--original. It must stretch me creatively or otherwise.
  • Good - It must be measured against a realistic, high standard identified in advance.
  • Personal - Those who know me can see me--my style, unique preferences or personal experiences--in the work in some way.
  • Helpful - It must be presented or published in some way so others can find it (or what I learned from making it) and benefit in some way.
And when done, reflect on the learning. Here are some starter questions:
  • What worked as planned?
  • What didn't?
  • How did the final project measure up on the stated standard of measure?
  • Where do I still have room for growth?
  • What surprised me most in the project (in good and bad ways)?
  • How did this project change me?
  • Is it worth it to do more projects like this one? Why?
If you do something similar or have suggestions, please share them in the comments or by email.

The idea for this challenge came from Seth Godin's very challenging list in The Icarus Deception:

Six Daily Habits for Artists

  • Sit alone; sit quietly.
  • Learn something new without any apparent practical benefit.
  • Ask individuals for bold feedback; ignore what you hear from the crowd.
  • Spend time encouraging other artists.
  • Teach, with the intent of making change.
  • Ship something that you created.

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