How and what are you learning lately?

Learning 1 Comment »

studying to learnLately, I’ve been doing a lot less blogging.  I still enjoy it however, one thing I’ve shifted from is how much I actually learn from blogging now from what I used to learn from it.  It seems looking back, that learning to blog, research topics, write content, market it, share it and discuss it with others had me learning as much about that whole process as the content itself I was writing about.  That process of so many added things to learn kept me quite excited about blogging and with so much of that becoming regular work instead of something to learn each time I had something to write, I found new ways to learn about and explore that content, not always in a blog article.  One way has been to put more of these ideas into practice and in life, to actually make ideas habits, instead of words.  Habits are something that drive so much of what we do and anytime there is something to change, you should look at what habits you want to form and if there are any habits you already have to replace with those new habits.  This is especially true because you cannot simply stop a habit, you always have to replace it with something new, and that makes habits very powerful for learning and change.

This is something I get to see in my own goal setting, in helping others set goals and in coaching people to drive change.  Habits are one of the first places I look and ideally, you find new habits to practice and make the old habits the triggers for those since they are always going to keep happening.  Change is something I’ve always able to easily embrace and often an advocate for.  It lets me explore and be creative with new ways of doing things and it keeps me motivated when I can explore a variety of things in life, include the tools and methods of how I do things (even old consistent things I’ve done for the a long time).

Recently, the new ways I’ve been doing some of my old past times is in my physical activity and training.  With back injury, I had to really step back from some of the intense physical training and activities I was doing for a while, but I have slowly progressed back to where I was and able to easily keep habits now that allow me to stay physically fit for these activities.  Whether I’m back out on the mountain unicycle in the rockies, practicing parkour or rock climbing, I can be confident that my training regime now better supports these practices and the training I do is habitual.  Bodyweight training with parallettes and gymnastic rings have become my new default training tools and they let me keep in shape for the physical activities I enjoy.

learning

In learning some of these news training / exercise styles, I’ve taken to using and watching a lot of great content online with youtube and finding some of the best channels to learn these skills.  I focus a lot on form and learning how to do things right, safely and with slow and safe progressions to ensure I never hurt myself badly again and to ensure I pick things up correctly so I don’t start or learn any bad habits which then need to be replaced again.  This has worked very well to find and develop skills in bodyweight training and my style of learning is then to train what I learn to others to help really set it in stone and to force a clear understanding of why to do things a certain way, so I can explain and teach that myself.  Again , this works well for me and I’ve since developed my Bodymaster webapp for tracking bodyweight exercises and I’ve setup a small fitness centre at my office and regularly train with some others who are just learning some of these same skills, whom I’ve able to help them through various levels of safe progressions, just like I learned.  The Bodymaster app was similar for me, in that I was learning to write applications with javascript and html5 and also wanted to learn jQuery mobile for making the app run easily on mobile devices.  It was a great learning experience and I was able to merge both learning the programming needed as well as the body weight progressions needed.

So, these are some of my recent learning experiences, I have many more I could write about in coaching, leadership, rock climbing, additional bodyweight training and probably others, as it is a common way for me to learn new skills and I know I will continually looking for ways to make habits of new things, to explore and combine areas of learning and to tie things I want to learn to interests that keep me easily motivated.  I hope you can find similar connections to things you have to learn and I’d love to hear about any ways or things you’ve been learning lately in comparison.

Book Review: Summary of Recent Reading

Book Reviews 1 Comment »

Well, without always taking the time to make notes and write up a full book review, I thought I would blast out a summary of 14 books I’ve read recently and my major takeaways and ratings of these books.

 

Superfreakonomics

Author: D.Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

This a great book and sequel to the first, Freakonomics.  If you are interested in some of the strange economics and statistics that lead to questions to the norm, then this book is for you.  I particularly loved the content on global cooling, altruism and the value question between pimps and realtors in regards to add societal value.

 

Wikinomics

Author: Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams

This book covers a scope of how information has become open, shared, global and done with peers.  For bloggers who are well read and informed of the many social aspects, marketing and sharing tools, I wouldn’t recommend the book, but for those are are interested in how these social circles work, the tools and methods within them and to learn more about the shift in information creation, then it covers a wide scope and should give you a deep gain in knowledge of how editable online content has emerged and is shaping the direction people use and rely on for information.

 

Self Promotion

Author: Nancy Ancowitz

I was extremely disappointed in this book as its not a book on self promotion for introverts at all, its cookie cutter advice for business promotion primarily in extroverted methods, which simply don’t work for introverts.  I’m an extrovert myself but was hoping to find better ways to explore and coach introverts in their own methods that would be more compatible for them with self introspection and creatively in their ways, but this book is not that.  I actually couldn’t finish reading it I thought it was so useless and the author’s continual reminders and emphasis on extroverted methods are rather patronizing.

 

CypherPunks

Author: Julian Assange

Well this was an interesting read for the sense of gaining perspective in the whole aspect of privacy and security with internet data and information.  It is really a transcript of various discussions with a panel of experts on the subject and they very intelligently explore some of the challenges society faces and the troubles with internet security and privacy of data.  Some of it is actually quite scary as you learn about the many controls in place on these areas you may not even be aware.  While I found it intriguing, I also found it a bit boring and there is good thought provoking dialog but nothing really to give you much in the way of take aways, really lessons learned or applicable knowledge.  It might be different if you are in this space more closely than I.

 

The Power of Body Language

Author: Tonya Reiman

This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed will likely read it again to help remember, practice and deeply learn the hundreds of techniques, ideas and methods to reading someone else’s body language.  It covers a huge spectrum with interesting case studies and experiences shared for many of the techniques which puts more substance to them.  If you are interested in learning to read and understand people better in face to face communication, then this book is an absolute must.

 

The Half-Life of Facts

Author: Samual Arbesman

Facts are something that may seem like they don’t ever change, but this book challenges and actually proves that to not be true.  All facts and what we know as knowledge changes over time and there are realities to that which we should consider in how we use information and what we would call, “facts”.  Its quite an intriguing book and I enjoyed reading it, as it gives data evidence and examples to prove points (which I like) and it really makes you think about some of the data you “think” you know is true and where much of that comes from.  It forces the reader to ponder some of the ways you use information.

Wait – The Art of Science and Delay

Author: Frank Partnoy

This book was a fun read as it takes a look at many aspects of where waiting to make decisions until the last possible moment can have excellent results, despite common thinking on procrastination.  Its very well written, funny and engaging for the reader as useful and common examples of decisions for life are explored to see how waiting can be a serious advantage.

 

The Long Earth

Author: Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

Definitely a fictional rarity for me but I did enjoy this book.  The Long Earth is a scientific imaginative exploration story through a journey millions of universes wide to discover and seek out if other humans have evolved in these many universes.  I disliked the lack of plot and real story development as much of the book seems like a stream of story sci-fi bits pasted together as the characters ‘step’ from one universe to another, ever stepping farther from earth.  It’s completely anti-climatic which was disappointing yet I was still a bit intrigued with the whole concept and the ways the parallel universes are exploited and inhabited by humans.

 

What Every Body is Saying

Author: Joe Navarro

This is a good introduction book to learning and detecting body language but it is somewhat simplistic and does not tie in enough cues together to really be able to understand body language well, as the book “The Power of Body Language” above does do.  It makes many mentions about how just a couple cues were used so obviously in the author’s job experiences, that it seems like he is overselling the body language as as set of obvious signs, even though it is not, nor does he lay that claim.  Its a good starting book to start reading body language but I’d recommend the book about on the subject over this one, as its more interesting, much more in depth and covers subtleties and relationships between conflicting body languages signs much better.

 

Just Listen

Author: Mark Goulston

This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.  It is simple to understand, very actionable and the methods are easy to learn and remember.  Listening skills are so crucial to good communication and I found that I learned a lot of things I can still apply more often from this book and some new techniques and methods I would have never had before.  The tools he provides will help you put your mind into the other side of communication and focus on the other person, which many people say but never give you a good set of tools like Goulston does to actually accomplish this.  If you want to improve your listening skills and take some his challenges to overcome some of your own pride, I suggest you read this book, apply his techniques and start listening to what others not only say around you, but what they have to say about you.

 

Connectome

Author: Sebastian Seung

I have enjoyed many articles and books on the science of the brain and so Connectome was a book that really intrigued me.  A Connectome is essentially the entire neural network in your brain that makes you, well, you.  It is a unique mapping to every individual, it of course changes dramatically over time and it is something that scientists would love to be able to map out in its entirety, which is under way for extremely simple animals, but decades away from even conceptually mapping a human mind due to its complexity.  Seung explores neuron types, synopses and the relationships between them as actors and interchangeable parts.  If you know this science at all, you are sure to learn some interesting things about the mind, how it works and how science is discovering its capabilities and simulation of those areas.  Overall, I thought it was a bit too science oriented without a lot of take-aways (unless your a brain scientist) so I’d recommend The Brain That Changes Itself if you are looking for a mix of science and story about the amazing structure, uniqueness and adaptability of the mind.

 

The Thank You Economy

Author: Gary Vaynerchuk

Vaynerchuk is has earned respect from his blogging, videos and now his books as well as he dives into the social arena with this one.  It covers all the necessary advice of how companies must not overlook social media and change the way they think in order to grab attention, act like the small local businesses and reconnect with the people that should be their customers.  He always displays a huge passion and this book is no different as you can tell from his unique style, having as many sidelines and comments stuck in with his thoughts as his videos do.

 

The Art of Non-Conformity

Author: Chris Guillebeau

Non-conformity has never been too difficult to me as I have many unique sports, have a reputation for being different and for often being know to have a bit of a tendency to break the rules.  All these things are covered well in the book by Guillebeau and I thoroughly enjoyed it which I think you will as well.  Whether you connect with these concepts or not, the author gives ample advice on how to change these norms and to not get stuck in the normal day to day life the same as the masses with nothing special to show for it.

 

C.S. Lewis – A Life

Author: Alister McGrath

I’ve enjoyed so many of Lewis’ books I thought I would see what a biography about the man would add for me.  I have to say that while this book itself delivers well on that subject, it just doesn’t seem to add anything to me for thinking about Lewis’ writing or my own beliefs as result, which certainly all of Lewis’ books have done.  If you are interested in the whole story of Lewis, this one uncovers the known, the documented and draws conclusions from evidence to fill in some of the missing pieces of Lewis’ life, but I have to say I thought it was rather boring and uninteresting and I’ve read a few other good biographies as well, so had an idea of what to expect.  While that might be for you, it wasn’t for me, I’d recommend you simply read more of Lewis’ work directly, as he has so many amazing books.

Book Review: The Trust Edge

Book Reviews 4 Comments »

How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line

Review Review Review Review ReviewThe Trust Edge - Book Cover

Author: David Horsager

This is a great book about how you can make a different in an organization by using and leverage trust in how you operate and behave in your organization.  The author stated in the book “Trust flows from individuals, not organizations” and that is a fantastic summary of the book and really the reason to read it.  You can make a difference with how you use trust for yourself, your career and your organization and the trust edge is something that is available to anyway, independent of their organization as there is always room for trust.  Surely different organizations will have barriers or roadblocks (as they all do) to how far or how quickly you can use the trust edge, but you can certainly make some room for it.  Because of this, I think it is an excellent book to read and a lot of very wise advice and behaviors are outlined in the book, making it actionable and applicable to everyone, which I love about a great book.

Horsager outlines the foundation of success, trust into 8 pillars of trust:

  1. Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous.
  2. Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves.
  3. Character: People notice those who do what is right over what is easy.
  4. Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant, and capable.
  5. Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity.
  6. Connection: People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends.
  7. Contribution: People immediately respond to results.
  8. Consistency: People love to see the little things done consistently.

Trusted leaders are followed and these pillars allow a leader to develop genuine relationships and powerful reputations leading to higher revenues and success in the business. Horsager includes many useful and actionable segments in the book with questions to pose on yourself and summary steps to help you put more trust into the way you operate in business.  These make the book much more applicable and his guides and methods are all very reasonable and useful to follow.

Horsager based his book on findings from top company research and he provides many examples of how trust is a critical factor to the success of these great companies.  Trust of the internal people and processes but also trust of the customer and vise versa.  Customers will never stick around if they do not trust you and your company.

So, I recommend this book to anyone interested in business, especially if you are interested in making and improving the trust and relationships you have internally and with customers, as it can make a huge impact on your success and enjoyment in your work.

Book Review: Bury my Heart at Conference Room B

Book Reviews 1 Comment »

The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers

Bury My Heart, Book Review

Review Review Review Review boo-stars-fadepng.png

Author: Stan Slap

This book interested me as a way to explore the passions in great managers and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  It looks at how managers can truly connect to their jobs, their teams and their emotional commitment for their work to get real meaning from it.  It looks at what makes some of the big difference between an average everyday manager putting in time and a great manager, who emotionally connects with their team and really pushes to maximize their impact with others and the organization.

The subtitle hints at it, that is to have truly committed managers and the author, Slap, puts a whole process around an individual discovering what will truly connect them to be committed and ready for caring, impacting work as a manager.  I like the messages throughout the book and found many times that their were some very wise comments, rants and advice that any manager who gives a darn can get some value from.

A general theme through the book and this process making the title of the book, is to explore, understand and then share the personal values you have as a person in some way to emphasis the company objectives and values as well.  It’t not to align the values directly, or to simply use the companies, its to really understand your own values, why you have them, know when and where they formed and then find a way to hold true to those in your workplace.  Living your values and fitting that in to your workplace is a way to then truly commit to get connected to teams, goals and values of the company as well.  Your values may not match the companies directly, but likely many aspirational aspects of values will align and it will enable you to find a way to make that reality in your daily work.  I held my rating at 4 stars because the thing that is difficult about the book, is to realize some of the outcomes that this book promises I think are very dependent on the company culture, where the response to such a process could be a major roadblock and there is not much help in the book at overcoming the obstacles you’d likely face with that.  I am fortunate to work in a culture that would easily accept this process and concept, however, I know that is not the case in every company and I didn’t find that addressed very well in the book.

This book would be exceptional for any organization leader who has a need or desire to re-engage managers to a higher level of commitment, emotional connection and value driven decisions.  If you want to put some heart into the way you manage or with your team, then I highly recommend this one.

Beating the Learn Curve

Learning 1 Comment »

Often a new challenge to face is a challenge specifically because that skill or activity has a steep learning curve.  This can come about from a new job, hobby, sport or activity and in order to overcome the challenges, you have to first face that learning curve.  LearnThis is all about methods of learning and personal development, which the learning curve is always a big part of.  How do you face a steep learning curve when something new comes your way? Well, I hope this articles can outline some approaches to use and some methods to tackle such a learning curve.learning curve

Know what you Don’t Know

Attitude is one of the main roadblocks when facing a learning curve as there are very different reactions to this problem.  Some people will have a tendency to to stay very open to new things, they will understand that they need or want to learn more and they are open minded and willing to accept that they don’t know how to do it.  Yet.  That is the key, yet.  Other people will actually hide from admitting they don’t know something and they will avoid these areas instead of diving in with interest.  These people tend to come across as egotistical or even arrogant since they are unwilling admit to others, let along themselves what they don’t know. It’s important to be ready and willing to admit what you don’t know so you are mentally prepared to learn new things and to even have a desire to.

As you do learn a subject, the variation in responses can also change dramatically from person to person.  In order to beat the learning curve best, it’s better to assume you are still on the learning curve and to be open to learning more than to get to a point and decide that you know enough.  Once you close off to continual learning, you will typically block yourself from expanding your views and it can be extremely limiting.  Keep the approach to learn more and know there is always going to be a learning curve to advance on, even if you have already  learned the basics or a lot of what you need.

Practice Makes Perfect

Learning without practice really isn’t going to do you much good.  In order to truly remember things and know how to apply them, learning itself simply pools knowledge and its what you do with knowledge that let you make a difference.  I recently wrote another article on Learning Habits and Applying Knowledge which emphasizes the importance of applying what you learn to really master it.  This is done with practice and practice will train you to use your new found knowledge in useful situations.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while learning, just do your best to recover from them and not repeat them.  Everyone makes mistakes when learning new things and its one of the fastest ways to improve.  What really matters when you’re learning is how you respond to mistakes and that you continue to learn, despite making them.

Don’t Stop

Lastly, and likely the most important, is to never give up or stop learning.  For a particular subject, this is obviously important and if you want to beat the learning curve, you might find it difficult and very challenging to overcome.  With perseverance, practice and the right approach however, you will eventually overcome that learning curve and get confident and comfortable with the skill or activity you are working to learn.  As you overcome a subject and feel comfortable, there is always more to learn and so while you might not seek out learning that subject more if you don’t feel you need it, you should always be ready and willing to learn more about it should the need or interest come back.  This also applies for related subjects so you can expand what you’ve learned even further.

The whole process of learning and behaviors it takes to beat the learning curve can be used over and over for all kinds of subjects and skills.  Don’t stop with one topic, don’t stop learning once you get the job of interest, or the degree you’ve been working towards.  Keep learning, expand your skills and make learning something that comes naturally and constantly in your life, as you will have many more successes, enjoy a variety of experiences and have a lot more opportunities to develop and find things you are truly passionate about and can enjoy in life.  This is a big reason why I started LearnThis.ca and I know learning and having to beat the learning curve will be something I’ve always facing, as I don’t ever intend to be complacent and stop expanding and learning new things.  I hope you don’t as well!

My Bodyweight Training WebApp Released!

Personal 7 Comments »

Well,  I’ve had a few articles about bodyweight training and I’ve been writing a little less on the blog lately, and working out and writing my training app a whole lot more.  I’ve been doing bodyweight training fairly consistently for the last few years (thanks to Parkour) and so I decided that I wanted an app to help me track progress in workouts and to make the many exercises for bodyweight training available in one convenient app.  Plus all the apps I’ve tried or found are more specific to workout programs or fitness in general, there were none that let me be in total control of what I do in my workout and simply help me track my specific exercises.

One of the reasons I’ve loved bodyweight training so much is that I can do it anytime, anywhere for just a few minutes or a long workout session.  There is little to no equipment needed and I can work out with anyone, since everything has so many progressions in it the movements can always be made easier or more difficult, depending on skill.  Also, the skills themselves and movements themselves in bodyweight training are far more enjoyable than lifting weights or a general fitness program.  Cross fit is another example of this, which is why so many people love it, its fun to move and development skills when training.  These are some of the reasons why I wanted to build an app for bodyweight training (plus I wanted to learn more about these development tools for career reasons).

Bodymaster

So, I’ve called it BodyMaster and it’s a pure webapp so you can use it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone.  I’ve designed the layout to be responsive for smaller displays and for your desktop and it also works in an offline mode so you don’t even need an internet connection after you’ve downloaded it the first time.

I’ll be cleaning up more workflow items with it and need to do more testing on different devices, as I’ve primarly used the desktop and my Android phone, which it works great on.  There is also a feature to synchronize your data with you email and password so that you can upload your results online and re-sync that to another browser if you want to use it on your phone and then sync that to your desktop for example.  Each browser will have to run the sync to upload results.

Anyway, I hope you can find some time to check it out, add a bookmark to use it online or offline and start learning more of the useful bodyweight training exercises that I’ve got in the app.  There are currently 257 exercises to do and learn from!!!

I’d love to hear what you think of the app and some of the exercise lists and I hope you can find some use for it!

Open the Bodymaster Free Web App here!

Copyright © 2014 Mike King