Your ETR (Estimated Time to Read): 8 minutes
Your ETII (Estimated Time to Implement Ideas):
5 weeks

July 2010

Feedback From Readers: Thoughts about Chat Packs and Picture This.

In this Issue:

Say It Quick
a thoughtful message in exactly 99 words

bits of serendipity to inspire and motivate
fuel for your own continuous learning
tips and tricks you can try today
Problems, Pressure, Pie! Miniature Metaphors Every Little Detail GURU
Let Experience be Your Teacher

Say It Quick

This issue of the Firefly New Flash suggests we look at what's small to inform our view of the big picture - beginning with this story in just 99 words.

Problems, Pressure, Pie!
My wife makes pies. I roll out the crusts. It's tricky to get a perfectly round, thin circle of dough. Any imperfection in the edge of the ball of dough gets worse under the rolling pin. Every tiny crack, under pressure, gets magnified into a huge gash. My early pie crusts looked like Norwegian fjords!

Experience has taught me to cut off the "peninsulas" and patch them over the "chasms" as I go along - before they become too exaggerated.

When the pressure's off, pay attention to the details so they don't become big problems later on.



Miniature Metaphors
As a youngster, perhaps you owned or admired a charm bracelet - a collection of tiny figures that represented people, places, events, or activities that were important to you. Each minute figure was invested with special meaning and recalled emotions or an element of your identity. The charm bracelet was more than a pretty object on your wrist. It had meaning.

You can capture this tangible sense of meaning and harness it for learning with Miniature Metaphors Processing Treasure Chest. This collection of tiny charms comes in a pocket-sized tin convenient for travel or use in the field. Developed with outdoor experiential educators in mind, Miniature Metaphors are just as handy in the classroom or for teachers, facilitators, and group leaders on the go. Pull them out of your pocket after a meeting to process what went well. Open the tin to help your team brainstorm a solution. Hold one in your hand as you review the events of the day during your evening commute. Uses are as diverse as are the many diminutive shapes in the box.

Because they are small, Miniature Metaphors work best in small groups where people can easily see one another up close. That physical closeness could be an advantage in some group situations. It might invite a more intimate and personable sharing of views and ideas than might happen with a larger group in a larger space where people have to use a larger voice to convey their ideas. This up-close intimacy would be especially appropriate in counseling or coaching sessions.

Don't let the name fool you. Miniature Metaphors can deliver a mighty message! Learn more at Experiential Tools.



Every Little Detail
Micromanagement, there's a lot of grumbling and eye-rolling about it in the workplace. Often, one person with some authority simply cannot let go of the details. In their concern about getting everything right they end up taking responsibility away from someone else and diminishing that person's authority in the process. Motivation suffers.

But if there's one place micromanagement might be justified, or even recommended, it is with oneself. For example, if I were able to apply the same critical eye and attention to the small details of my own activities that come easily when I review the actions of others, how different might things be? I might hand off a "cleaner" project to the next team member. I might raise a sensitive topic among colleagues without ruffling feathers. I might discover playful ways to improve relationships at home. I might see how simple daily choices impact the fallout from an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Attention to this level of personal detail takes reflection and a degree of introspection that is neither valued nor promoted in our Twitter culture that demands instant reaction rather than delayed reflection. Yet, as one interpretation of the 99-Word Story this month suggests, when under pressure, our imperfections tend to become magnified. Attending to them early on only makes sense.

Using a Miniature Metaphor is one way to take care of the details. Making an analogy between a tangible object and your current situation can be the beginning of a reflective journey. You'll be able to identify nuances of meaning with each subtlety becoming a new point for possible improvement. A short moment of reflection such as this might be the first step for making big changes as a leader!



Let Experience Be Your Teacher

Making a metaphorical connection is one of many ways to examine the small details and gain a new perspective before they grow proportionally. Asking the right questions is another. After any interaction or event, you can take a mental break and conduct an analysis of the immediate situation. To make it quick and comprehensive, here are four categories of questions you can use.

Ask questions to reveal the common Ground of experiences. Zero in on thoughts and feelings. Identify emotional reactions. Encourage recall and reporting of major actions and experiences.

Sample questions: What were you thinking or feeling at the time? What was the sequence of events? What did people say and do? What is something that surprised you about what happened?

Ask questions to Understand the situation in a larger context. Questions should highlight similarities and differences within and between events, ideas, or actions. Encourage the articulation and analysis of what was learned. Make generalizations and connections to other situations.

Sample questions: What was unusual about this situation? What other situations does this one remind you of? What did you learn from what happened?

Ask questions to encourage creativity about Revising actions or attitudes. Encourage consideration of the best reaction if the situation or information had been slightly different. Ask about the thoughts, attitudes, or behaviors that would be changed if given the chance.

Sample questions: Knowing what you know now, what might you do differently if you encountered a similar situation in the future? How would your reaction have been different if you had had more time? What information would you be sure to seek the next time around? Which of your preconceptions might you examine for the future?

Ask questions about how to Use the new insights just gained. Focus on questions about planning new actions. Encourage consideration of what could be done differently in a similar situation or how to apply this new learning in the near future.

Sample questions: What advice would you give to someone in a similar circumstance? What is a situation you anticipate in the next week where you could apply what you have learned? What is the single most effective thing you plan to do differently?

Ground, Understand, Revise, Use, the first letters taken together spell GURU, a reminder of the guiding and mentoring qualities of these questions. Whether with a team or on your own, I encourage you to consult your GURU the next time you feel stuck, frustrated, or even successful! Then, please, what you learned!


Readers' Feedback

Chat Packs, the Discovery featured in the June Firefly News Flash
What the chat packs do is spark memory. Sometimes when my sister and I talk, she will remember something that I do not recall at all. It was very vivid to her and should have been to me too, considering the event. I have to really strain to remember sometimes. At least with the chat packs you wont be forced to talk about the weather or how the latest reality show is going! --Dianna R.

Picture This, the Activity for the April Firefly News Flash is still open for comments. See what others are saying and leave a comment of your own HERE.


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