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Personal Effectiveness

Increasing My Learning Index: Sharpening My Saw

The desire for self-improvement and self-fulfilment is what Maslow would call ‘SelfActualisation’. This quest for continuous improvement and learning is what Covey terms, ‘Sharpening the Saw’. In Learning Organisation, it is called ‘Personal Mastery’ or in John Maxwell’s words, ‘Raising the Lid’.


How can I do this? I propose 2 approaches to Learning: i) ‘Inside-Out” Approach and ii) ‘Outside-In’ Approach.


Inside Out (Man in the Mirror)
We know by now that for any change to take place, it must start from the ‘Man in The Mirror’. A few useful questions with regards to “Sharpening My Saw”:


a) Do I read Daily? Do I go to the library or bookshop often to borrow and buy books? Sir Francis Bacon once said, “Reading Maketh a Full Man”.


b) What do I read? What do I feed on? Are these uplifting and inspirational?


c) Do I read Widely enough? The recent setting up a liberal arts college between NUS and Yale University is about the importance of Breadth in Thinking (flexibility and agility in thinking, ability to thrive in chaos and ability to think innovatively, strategically and systematically — 80/20 Principle).


d) Do I Reflect Deeply (depth)? Do I question what I read? Do I apply it to my own learning? Do I connect what I read to what’s happening in life? Do I reflect often on what makes sense to me? Do I reflect on my own learning? Do I own and use a learning log? Am I self-aware of my talents, strength, passion and likewise, my weakness, shadows and fears? Do I do anything about them?


e) Do I Apply what I’ve Learnt? Do I consciously set intentions and goals? Do I plan each day what I hope to achieve?


Out-side In
Organisations that do not learn, unlearn and relearn constantly, run the risk of being extinct (like the dinosaurs or “boiled frogs”). Do I learn from ‘Outside’ – learning the best practices from the same as well as from diverse industries? We cannot be too complacent and be too arrogant to live in isolation and think “I’m My Position” (one of the 7 Learning Disabilities).


In short, we must constantly keep ourselves and our organisations at the cutting edge an continue learning. This encompasses both Inside-out and then Outside-In Learning! Of course, the change must start from learning from ourselves (Inside-Out) i.e. Self-Awareness & Self-Management before we can learn from others (Outside-In).

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