The Things We Think We Know

If we are to be authentic, we must be genuine and sincere.  What does this really mean?  If we are to look these terms up, they often refer to one another in their definition.  So let's choose one, sincere, and delve a little deeper into the etymology:

"pure, unmixed," from Middle French sincere (16c.), from Latin sincerus, of things, "whole, clean, pure, uninjured, unmixed," figuratively "sound, genuine, pure, true, candid, truthful," of uncertain origin. The ground sense seems to be "that which is not falsified." Meaning "free from pretense or falsehood" in English is from 1530s.  Furthermore, it is thought that the Latin origins started with the meaning "without wax" (*sin cerae) in regard to sculpture flaws and blemishes that were commonly coverd-up with wax.

I have always been very sensitive and aware of my being highly authentic as well as when others were or were not conducting themselves in an authentic manner - intentionally or not. When my daughter, whom I admire greatly, recently declared that she does not like technology, I questioned her on her basis for such a bold declaration, particularly since it is so inconsistent with how she lives her life daily (SnapChat, texting, FaceTime, YouTube, Google Docs, laptops, iPads, iPhones and so on).

This made me think further, was this merely an accidental misstatement of the fact that she is not wholly enamored with technology to the degree that I am, or was it perhaps a sentiment picked-up along the way and adopted because it sounded good. She was not sure, which brings me to the point I want to make.

To be truly authentic, we must know ourselves, and to do that, we must question whether our own thinking is coherent, cohesive, and truly our own - self-awareness.

How many people do you know where you perceive that they are not being authentic?  Do you find that their philosophies, beliefs, and behaviors are inconsistent with one another and changing from day to day or under varying circumstances?  Is this intentional, or are they not aware that they have given themselves away and instead, they have become nothing more than the malleable parrots of other's slogans and sentiments, not by choice so much as a byproduct of being fearful to be themselves?

To be keenly self-aware, you must start with observing yourself. As you meet new people, engage in work meetings, and spend time with different social groups, try to observe how you feel in each situation. Leaning to be more observant and self-aware will allow you to recognize when you are feeling uncomfortable, understand why you are feeling uncomfortable, and signal to yourself to intentionally draw upon your authentic self, which in itself, may take some discovery.

Authentic people are impeccable when they speak to themselves, about themselves and others.  They have a healthy approach to life by knowing there will always be naysayers, and their opinions don’t matter.

Authentic people create their own rules based on the standards that resonate with them. They have the courage to live their lives based on what they believe is right. Not to turn this into an exercise in etymology, but courage is a key concept in being authentic. Courage comes from the French word, coeur (heart), and it means to follow one's heart.

Authentic people don’t allow their fears to prevent them being themselves. If you are focused on being true to yourself in every moment, you are less concerned about the potential for rejection from others.  Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent".

To be truly authentic, we must know ourselves, and to do that, we must question whether our own thinking is coherent, cohesive, and truly our own.  We cannot be fearful of rejection, for nobody can actually reject us without our permission, even if they do not agree with our perspective.  To truly be authentic earns respect and admiration because, in reality, we all know that it takes courage and strength to be consistently true to yourself.

The Point of no Return

We go through our lives functioning in the world as we have come to know it through various forms of learning.  That learning is comprised mostly of explicitly obtained knowledge from various modes of education and also experiential knowledge, obtained through our daily lives.  We don't always have ways, or even the inclination, to validate whether this information, meaning our paradigms, are accurate or not.  In fact, we are often certain that our paradigms are grounded with fundamental truths.  When we operate in accord with these paradigms, and things don't work out, we may even be tempted to rationalize that any and everything is to blame but our own paradigm.

However, it is critical that we remain receptive the potential need for  changing our paradigms.  Short of that,  when our defenses are down, new information may sneak up on us and catch us off guard before we can put up a defense.  No matter how it happens, once we have a realization that one or more of our paradigms was inaccurate and needing to be changed, or even replaced, everything is different from that point on.  We often call this an 'Ah-ha' moment.

Some 'ah ha' moments are smaller refinements, while others can be life altering.  I can remember a couple of key 'ah ha' moments that were huge game changers for me. 

One was when I wanted a motorcycle as boy, and the only way I could make that happen was to buy a rusted pile a junk and rebuild it myself.  Much greater than the joy of finally riding my rebuilt motorcycle, was the power of the realization that if I could make this happen for myself as boy in 5th grade, I could do anything, and the world of possibilities unfolded right before my eyes.  I consider that realization a tremendous gift.

A second 'ah ha' happened for me in college. I have to admit that I coasted through high school and into college.  The work was easy enough to complete without ever taking a book home, and typically achieving A's and B's for my final grades.  My Chemistry Professor must have spotted this, and whenever I would go to hand in my lab assignment, he would snatch it up from his lab assistant and say, "I will grade Mr. Sims lab assignment."  He would find some detail that was in error, even something like leaving off the date, and fail my assignment so I would have to come back another day and redo the lab. 

This repeated for a couple of weeks.  At first I was  starting to get pretty irritated and then I declared war (but in a good way) and determined that I would beat him at his own game.  I resolved that my work, not only in the lab, but everywhere else, would be absolutely flawless.  Of course, this was not anywhere as easy as what I had been doing all through school up to that point; I had to study endlessly, I had to triple check my work, I had to maintain a discipline of doing whatever it took, and then, just a little bit more.  When it was time to hand in my work, I would refuse to give it to anyone other than the professor.  And you know what, he won!  Because now that I had discovered a new work ethic and that I could turn in consistent A's for Chemistry, I realized that I could do the same for Calculus, French and Sociology.  At that point, there was no turning back because I changed my paradigm forever.  I could not un-discover what I had learned about my capacity to do top notch work!

Now, as we get older, and wiser, we don't necessarily need mentors to set us up to trip over these 'ah ha' moments, we can even set ourselves up to go through the next paradigm revisions we need to achieve for our continual growth and evolution.  Furthermore, it is now our turn to offer these opportunities for life altering realizations back to the next generation. 

That is what I spent most of yesterday on.  I hope, for at least some of the 15 local high school seniors we spent the day with yesterday, that they will have come away with one or two valuable 'Ah ha' moments.  It would give me great joy, on behalf of our organization, to have’ paid it forward’.  But in addition to the obvious opportunities presented by young students who have temporarily lost their way, we need to be aware of how we can help our staff find the ‘ah ha’ moments they need to keep progressing towards greater and greater contribution and achievement.

Realizing Our Potential

Self Actualizing, in the broadest sense, means realizing one's full potential.  However, this sort of very broad concept remains just that, a concept, unless we bring it into more concrete terms.

Realizing one's full potential must be preceded by clearly identifying one's full potential.  I have been thinking about this lately because I believe it is incumbent upon my role as a manager and leader to help my staff achieve at their fullest capacity, and to that, we first have to cleave through the quagmire of good and bad external inputs that have been accumulated over the years.  This endeavor undoubtedly includes a thorough evaluation one's personal values and guiding principles, since they are so foundational to our daily behaviors.  This introspection would reveal in anyone, that at least some of our values and guiding principles are not truly of our own design nor choosing, rather, they have merely been imprinted upon us through various life experiences.

I bring this up, as it is not unusual to have accumulated some idea of our potential, or more likely, the limitations of our potential, through our life experiences, including opinions or even projections laid upon us over the years, at least some of which may have been consciously or even unconsciously accepted, and then subsequently re-enforced as personal limitations.   I assure you, that none of these limitations are real, though some aspects of our potential may be less easily realized than others.

So, to realize our true potential, we must first remove the self-imposed, or at least accepted, limitations we have picked up over time and have since continued to apply and re-enforce.  Re-enforced you say?  Yes, haven't you ever heard someone say, "Oh, I could never do that!", well, it just isn't true!   Yet we accept these notions of our limitations, and then, unwittingly re-enforce them without even questioning them.

Having questioned and removed these limitations, thereby discovering a new and greater potential to realize for ourselves, we must then embark on the second challenge, which is how go about achieving self-actualization. By far, the greatest barrier to self actualization is overcoming our own fears, expressed most commonly by finding it impossible to even begin.  It is so ironic, that the reality is in plain view, like the nose on our face, and just as we have lived within falsely imposed limitations regarding our potential, we live within the notion that the realization of our potential is inaccessible to us.  The truth is that all we have to do is begin!  Like walking across a balance beam, we must begin, and even if we falter, or even fall, there is nothing more required than to get back up and continue, and before you know it, you are at the other end.

I often tell people, when discussing this sort of challenge, that, "I don't know how to do my job; rather, I know how to do things I don't know how to do".  What is meant by this is that I do not undertake my role in a formulaic manner, like following the recipe for a cake, as everyday bring new challenges, and requires adaptations, both small and large, to do the job well. 

The realization of each of our potential is so close and accessible, yet it can seem virtually impossible.  I think of people that I have offered to help in learning to play the guitar, and how they are commonly discouraged after the first half an hour.  Guess what; everyone, I mean everyone, is a complete clod in the beginning.  However, with just a little more perseverance, such as practicing three chords, twenty times each, each evening for a week, huge progress will be discovered.  Likewise, the realization of each of our full potential begins with one step, and then another, supported by the courage and belief that you can and will ultimately achieve your objective. 

I know this about myself, and I have no less confidence in each and every one of you.  I invite and encourage you to tear away those falsely applied limitations and to begin anew, to truly realize your full potential.  Seek the support and partnership from those around to fortify your courage and commitment, calling upon your friends, family, coworkers and myself. Stick your neck out, be adventurous, explore beyond those artificial horizons you have lived within so far, and revel in the discovery of just how amazingly capable each of your really are!

'Thinking Outside the Box' or 'Outside the Nine Dots'

What does 'thinking outside the box or outside the nine dots mean to you?  We have to be careful that these sort of catch phrases do not become such a cliché, through overuse as trite slogans and advertising tag lines, that we do not take the time reflect on the powerful concept that they are meant to encapsulate.

Thinking outside the box is to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel, creative and smart thinking.  This is sometimes called a process of lateral thought or divergent thinking.

The "nine dots" puzzle.
So, where am I going with this? 

The goal of the puzzle is to link all 9 dots using four straight lines or less, without lifting the pen and without tracing the same line more than once. One solution appears below.

One of many solutions to this puzzle is to go beyond the boundaries to link all dots in 4 straight lines.

If you recall, I recently spoke on the topic of 'You are what you eat' which highlighted that we really do create our own destiny, whether we are aware of it or not.  Well, this month I would like to discuss how we must not accept a destiny that has merely happened to us, if not even thrust upon us.  Let me elaborate...

We recently had a consulting firm come in and perform a DNA screening for everyone in the department.  Guess what we found?  You are all extraordinary people with the potential to do anything you choose.  Inadvertently, our antiquated, educational system has trained us to believe there is only one answer, and it can only be found at the back of the book.  Sadly, we have had our creativity and zeal drummed out of us be the time we complete our education, having been churned out the system in batched, by year, like a factory.

Heresy you say?  Let me give you an illustration.  Not too long ago, there was a study in human intelligence and creativity.  They evaluated our capability for divergent thinking.  For example, they took a simple question such as, "what uses can you come up with for a paper clip?" This study was conducted across 1500 people.  An average person would typically come up with 10-15 uses, and at the genius level, people would come up with over 200 uses.  The first group that was tested were children in kindergarten.  How do you suppose they did?  98% of them scored at the genius level.  Now this test was performed over the same group over a number of years; at ages 8-10, and once more at 13-15.  Their creativity deteriorated greatly as they progressed through the educational system, until they finally arrived upon the same average results as everyone else.

Now, please don't hear this as an indictment of our educational system, as that is not my intent, rather, hear that we are all gifted with the capacity for unbounded creativity, and it is only through prolonged training that we become fearful of anything but the correct answer found at the back of the book.  But that is not who you are, and it is not what I require of you.

If we are to truly deliver singular value to the enterprise, then we have to tap into our creativity, as the answer at the back of the book is not going to be enough.  But be prepared, as true innovation is risky, we are going to have to make some mistakes along the way.  But how can we make mistakes, in an enterprise where we measure every financial transaction down the 100th of a percent?  Well, we have to be creative in a very rational, business minded way.  Now I know I am raising a lot of questions here, and it may even seem that I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth.  But I am not!  We must have the courage to think outside the nine dots, and the discipline to carefully mitigate our risks in such a way that successful execution is assured.

So, to recap, you are all brought into this world with a genius capacity for creatively thinking outside the box,   I am not only giving you permission to do so, I require it, and the only limitation that I am applying it that we have ultimately employ business rational thinking to ensure that our creative ideas truly deliver value and that we have done all we can to mitigate the risks and ensure successful execution and delivery.  Now before you look at me as though I have just asked you to leap an entire building in a single bound... you’re not really saying that you are willing to be shown-up by a bunch of kindergartners, are you?  And besides, doesn't that sound like great job description?

What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?  Ok, now let's go do it anyway!

Achilles Heel

In Greek mythology, when Achilles was a baby, it was foretold that he would die young. To prevent his death, his mother Thetis took Achilles to the River Styx, which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability, and dipped his body into the water. But as Thetis held Achilles by the heel, his heel was not washed over by the water of the magical river. Achilles grew up to be a man of war who survived many great battles. But one day, a poisonous arrow shot at him was lodged in his heel, killing him shortly after.

In the workplace
We use 'Achilles Heel' in the workplace as a metaphor for the single most critical weakness that will likely prove to be one's downfall. Unlike Achilles, we are in a position to assist one another and our staff to identify our 'Achilles Heel' and therefore remedy that otherwise fatal weakness.

Listed below, are some of those fatal weaknesses that I have observed as somewhat recurring patterns in the IT professional arena. The more able we are to recognize these issues in others, or ourselves, the faster and more effectively we will be able to help start to work through a remedy.

Go to the icebox, get the cheese
This challenge exists where people are only willing to take on tasks where others lay out the steps, and even then, they do not think through the steps and apply energy to ensure that the desired result is achieved. This can result from a combination of being lazy, undisciplined, unengaged and entitled.

It is our challenge to engage others, not in the steps, but the outcome, then, no matter what level of instructions are offered, they will undertake to ensure that the steps they follow are complete, accurate and coherent and truly engineered to deliver the intended result.

You didn't ask me that
This challenge if very similar to the previous one. If the individual is not vested in what is ultimately trying to be achieved, then they will only think hard enough to meet the minimum criteria towards satisfying the question. This is a far cry from giving a thoughtful and complete answer, which is still short for first understanding the context for the question and what the ultimate objective is, and then giving and answer that is truly intended to ensure the objective is meet.

Again, it is our challenge to engage others, not in merely giving an answer, but taking ownership in a successful outcome, therefore endeavoring to truly be of assistance with an explanation that we support the intended outcome.

I don't have an issue
This perspective presents a huge challenge because it presents a "you can't get there from here" paradox. What happens is, largely due to insecurities and lack of trust, the individual is totally unreceptive to constructive criticism. This lack of receptivity creates a total impasse in terms of growing and evolving, let alone quickly resolving critical issues in terms of behaviors and skills.

It is up to us to go through the steps to forge trust to a degree that level of trust will override the insecurity trigger response to become defensive and shut down all receptivity in others. This takes time and effort, there is not shortcut, as pushing harder, or even threatening will only heighten the very barriers that we need to address first.

'Tunnel vision' and 'target fixation'
'Tunnel vision' (the issue of maintaining too narrow a perspective, and therefore not being able to see the full spectrum of opportunities) and 'target fixation' (the issue of fixing our vision on an obstacle, as if in terror, and thereby constraining our ability to see the way around the obstacle) are very similar issue. This is a result from a lack of experience where an individual has self-identified this challenge and/or a reluctance to employ the measure needed to address it.

We need to help others recognize their tendency towards this sort of issues and how to invoke the discipline of stepping back from the challenge, gaining a fresh perspective, and perhaps collaborating with others to break out of our tunnel or target. If we truly wish to excel, and not be impaired by this challenge, then we should be willing to do whatever we have to do to overcome it.

I don't need to take notes
You can easily cleave and group of people into two by nearly any criteria. For example, in a meeting, you can easily identify those that are more mature and successful by the fact that not only are they are taking notes, but the way they are taking not that is oriented towards actions such as, information I need to relay, commitment I need to follow-up on, something I need to learn more about and so on.

When we are conveying information to peers and staff, unless they have been endowed with the gift of an eidetic memory, they should be taking notes, especially where action is needed. This is a result of a lack of discipline, maturity, responsibility, engagement and ownership plus a lack of pride and sense of commitment. We need to help others recognize that issues occur as a result of their shortcoming in this regard, and that is not acceptable, but even more so, from a personal sense of pride, don't they want to show up as a top notch professional that is full engaged and ready to absolutely deliver?

Single threaded
Even many of our individual contributors no longer have the luxury of single threading their tasks. We all need to employ the discipline of some sort of a task list, maintaining it and applying our efforts appropriately throughout each and every day based on what is on our list. The only thing that varies with seniority is the size and complexity of our task list and the further challenge that our day is sliced into greater slices of smaller bits of time that we still need to effectively apply to our task list.

This challenge is related to the previous one in the sense that you must first establish a task list and properly record tasks. But it in this case, we need to help people understand how they can apply various techniques to ensure that they do not become solely absorbed in a single task without properly designing how they are going to attack their task list. This is definitely an issue of discipline and maturity. As we move through our career, if we have not already learned to multi-task, we will have some long-lived habits to overcome via a daily planning exercise, with that plan revisited whenever new factors arise throughout the day.

'I sent them an email' and 'I tried'
These scenarios are not uncommon, and a bit not unlike 'you did not ask me that' in that there is minimal effort applied just to the point that an individual believes they now have a valid excuse to not have worked any harder. But these excuses are far short of success, and success is measured in a binary manner (i.e., you either were, or were not successful, nothing in between).

We need to help people understand that these sorts of postures on any task reflect a lack of maturity, integrity and are totally unacceptable. We need to help them understand just how pathetic this sort of response is, and that is illustrates either an unwillingness or inability to think around even the most trivial obstacle…. Is that really what they mean to project about themselves as IT professionals?

It's not my job
This attitude is infuriating to the mature IT professional because we know that it is all, all of our job, to be successful together. There is no being successful on our own. There is nothing wrong with holding others accountable for their part, but we cannot stand by and predict, or even observe their failure in the meantime.

We have to help them see this big picture, but we have to manifest it in our everyday practices by celebrating success together and also bearing the weight of our failures as a team, and holding those accountable, who had the responsibilities, or had the opportunity to help ensure success, and did not do so.

Shinny Ball
Many of us lean in one direction or the other, towards the routine, or that which is new and different. Whether we are distracted by the new shinny ball, and do not fulfill our routine duties, or whether gravitate towards that which is known and comfortable, instead of conquering that which is unknown, in either case, this gets back to discipline, maturity, and work prioritization.

Regardless of your preferences, we probably all have parts of our job that we really love, and parts that we do not enjoy so much, yet, we have to find the strength to get it all done properly and on time. Anything short of this is a failure, and if we recognize this, then we are likely on our way towards applying the discipline necessary to avoid this sort of failure.

Promises, Promises…
We so often find reluctance towards making a promise, recognizing that the needs to be a commitment made or even worse, not realizing that a promise is implied, and therefore, failure is imminent.

We need to help other to recognize how this occurs and how they not only can, but must, negotiate till they are setup for success, and then absolutely positively deliver on that deal.

Problems don't get better with time!

All of this depends first, on our ability to identify the issue(s), and secondly, our skill to help others recognize it in themselves and to see value in addressing those issues. The question of WIFM (what's in it for me) must be answered or there will be no effort applied towards a resolution. A mature professional will more likely recognize the issue more readily and also see the value of the remedy on their own. A less mature individual, or someone who is challenged with 'I do not have an issue' will have a harder time arriving upon the Ah-Ha moment and may also have a harder time seeing enough value in the remedy versus the effort that it will take to affect that remedy. This is part of our challenge.

My department's management team has read 'The Power of Positive Confrontation' together. From that book, we have learned how to more effectively deliver a constructive criticism. Armed with that skill, and the greater clarity of the classic 'Achilles Heels' that most commonly challenge our staff in their ability to be the top notch professionals that they all have the potential to be, it is incumbent upon each of us to more quickly and effectively identify these issues, clearly and directly WAC'em, and then coach, mentor and guide them through to remedy.


Call to action for my team to revitalize that curiosity which  powers each of our intellect.

Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein were all intensely curious people.  But why is curiosity so important? 

Here are four reasons:
  • It makes your mind active instead of passive - Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger.
  • It makes your mind observant of new ideas - When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
  • It opens up new worlds and possibilities - By being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.
  • It brings excitement into your life - The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention, there are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life.

How do we ensure that we have not put a lid on our native curiosity, and instead, cultivate and nurture it:
  • Keep an open mind - This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.
  • Don’t take things as granted - Question everything and don't just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper. Never take things as granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.
  • Ask questions relentlessly - A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way? When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people.
  • Don’t label something as boring - Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.
  • See learning as something fun - If you see learning as a burden, there’s no way you will want to dig deeper into anything. That will just make the burden heavier. But if you think of learning as something fun, you will naturally want to dig deeper. So look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process.
  • Read diverse kinds of reading - Don’t spend too much time on just one world; take a look at another worlds. It will introduce you to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds which may spark your interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is through reading diverse kinds of reading. Try to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed your mind with the excitement of a new world.

Your Personal Learning Style

Discussion with my department on how to identify, appreciate and leverage their unique learning styles.

Previously, I have talked about personality types and how we should appreciate and embrace the unique value in those that have personalities different than our own.  This is because they bring vital attributes to contribute to a team that are different than what we bring.  Similarly, we will further excel, as individuals, and in working with others if we understand differences in learning styles.

Understanding Your Personal Learning Style
Learning styles are a combination of an individual’s preferred learning modality and learning type – or the way one physically processes and deals with information.  The better we understand learning styles (modalities and types) in general, and more specifically, what our learning style is, the better we can set ourselves up with the ideal conditions for learning, and know that we will need to adapt, when those conditions are not possible

Every person – young or old – has a preferred learning style. Your learning style influences both the way you learn and the way you interact with other people. As an adult you have likely learned over the years to adapt your learning style, at least to some degree, to better facilitate personal interaction, communication, and instruction that are not presented in your preferred modality.

3 Primary Learning Modalities Every Person Uses
Learning modalities are the ways in which we physically take in, process and remember information.  Learning modalities include:
·         Visual
·         Auditory
·         Kinesthetic

All people start out as kinesthetic learners. Babies explore the world through touching and tasting their world. Children typically become more visual and auditory learners as they grow older and throughout their school years – learning by what we see and hear in addition to what we are physically able to touch.

"Children enter kindergarten as kinesthetic and tactual learners, moving and touching everything as they learn. By second or third grade, some students have become visual learners. During the late elementary years some students, primarily females, become auditory learners. Yet, many adults, especially males, maintain kinesthetic and tactual strengths throughout their lives."

Even as we learn to utilize multiple learning modalities in our daily lives, most people favor one predominant, or preferred, learning modality.

Visual (65% of adults):  Visual learners need to read, see, watch and observe information – their eyes are the key to learning.

Visual learners prefer pictures, graphs, charts, and diagrams to make sense of information. They prefer to read the text themselves, rather than have it read out loud to them. Visual learners spend time reading information, examining pictures, illustrating ideas and taking notes. And visual learners benefit from assignment notebooks, to-do lists and calendars.

Auditory (30% of adults):  Auditory learners need to hear information – their ears are the key to learning.

Auditory learners prefer sound and verbalization, even if it is listening to themselves talk out loud. Auditory learners often use talking aloud to work through problems verbally. Auditory learners excel when a traditional auditory teaching approach such as lecturing is used. Auditory learners benefit from reading information and directions out loud, varying voice tone and voice inflection, and assignments requiring speeches and other oral presentations.

Kinesthetic (5% of adults):  Kinesthetic learners need to interact with information – their hands and bodies are the key to learning.

Kinesthetic learners prefer doing, touching and direct involvement. Kinesthetic learners have a difficult time sitting still for long periods of time. Kinesthetic learners enjoy exploring the concepts and information they need to learn.

Remember, although most adults are not kinesthetic learners, all young children start out as kinesthetic learners.

4 Foundational Types of Learners
Learner types can be considered a more of a learning "personality" than a learning style. Learning type involves organizational style, personality, and ways of dealing with information rather than how individuals process information.

Concrete Sequential:
Concrete sequential learners tend to be very straight-forward and down to earth in their approach to life. Concrete sequential individuals are particularly good at working systematically, establishing routines and processes, being in tune with expectations, paying close attention to details and following a schedule or plan.

Concrete sequential learners are typically:
·         organized
·         factual
·         practical
·         task-oriented
·         predictable
·         orderly
·         thorough
·         detailed

Conversely, concrete sequential people often struggle with:
·         casual discussion
·         working in groups
·         functioning in a disorganized environment
·         making sense of abstract ideas
·         using their imagination and questions that don’t require a black and white answer

Abstract Sequential:
Abstract sequential learners are naturally very objective and like to debate. Abstract sequential individuals are very good at gathering data, analyzing ideas, analyzing information and research.

Abstract sequential learners are typically:
·         logical
·         scholarly
·         analytical
·         rational
·         theoretical
·         academic
·         argumentative

Conversely, concrete sequential people often struggle with:
·         sharing emotions
·         being sentimental
·         being diplomatic
·         allowing others time to speak
·         repetition
·         rules
·         time constraints

Abstract Random:
Abstract random learners naturally attract other people because of their strong interpersonal skills. Abstract random individuals are very good at listening to others, paying attention to emotions, conflict resolution, building rapport, and focusing on themes.

Abstract sequential learners are typically:
·         imaginative
·         thematic
·         colorful
·         flexible
·         empathetic
·         emotional
·         interpretive
·         very sensitive

Conversely, abstract sequential people often struggle with:
·         having to explain themselves
·         remaining focused on one thing
·         dealing with criticism
·         providing details
·         unfriendly people
·         competition

Concrete Random:
Concrete random learners are good at thinking fast on their feet, being accepting of others, discovering creative ways to solve problems and complete tasks, thinking outside of the box, identifying options and solutions, and providing inspiration to others. Concrete random individuals are driven to learn more, know more and take risks.

Concrete random learners are typically:
·         daring
·         divergent
·         original
·         independent
·         curious
·         intuitive
·         investigative

Conversely, concrete random people often struggle with:
·         restrictions and limitations
·         routines
·         having no options
·         re-doing work
·         formal reports
·         explaining how they got an answer


Learning modalities include:
·         Visual – learning by seeing
·         Auditory – learning by hearing
·         Kinesthetic – learning by touching or doing

Learning types include:
·         Concrete Sequential – organized, practical, orderly, and detailed
·         Abstract Sequential – logical, rational, academic and argumentative
·         Abstract Random – imaginative, flexible, interpretive and sensitive
·         Concrete Random – daring, independent, intuitive and investigative
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