Showing posts with label Learn from Experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Learn from Experience. Show all posts

Monday, February 3, 2014

5 Magic Questions for Learning from Your Experiences

Several years ago I attended a large conference for entrepreneurs, with more than 1,000 attendees. The night before the official event kicked off, I was able to attend an exclusive reception for just 100 people. It represented a terrific opportunity to meet potential partners and clients.

After most guests had arrived, the host passed around a microphone so each person could give a 30-second introduction. The idea was to say something compelling about your business so those who might be interested in your products and services could seek you out later.

Fortunately, I didn't have to go first. I wasn't sure of the best approach.

When it my turn did come, I felt like I blew it.

I didn't exude confidence. I didn't grab their attention. Not a single person came up to me afterwards.

During the rest of the reception, I spent a ridiculous amount of time beating myself up for not taking full advantage of that opportunity.

My inner critic was running rampant.

When I got back to my hotel room, I knew I needed to do something to let go of this incident. Otherwise, I’d waste valuable time and energy dwelling on something I couldn’t change…and feeling bad about myself in the process.

In our ProStar Coach system, we teach five questions to help a person process a situation, to draw out lessons learned and make improvements the next time.

We call them “magic” questions because they are truly transformational.

I decided to write out the answers these questions. It would force my brain to think about the situation in a different light.

1. What Happened? What was the sequence of events? Who did what?

2. Why did it happen that way? What were the causes?

3. What were the consequences? Think about the impact of the event. Outcomes? Benefits? Costs? Problems? Resolutions?

4. How would you handle a similar situation in the future? What lessons can you take away that you can apply if this happens again?

5. What will you do NOW? What is your next step?

I wrote down my answers to each question on a piece of paper. Completing this exercise helped me stop thinking about what I’d done and forced me to focus on creating a positive outcome in the future.

The process of thinking through those questions gave me an amazing amount of insight and helped me let go of the past. The endless replays of the earlier scene stopped.

When you encounter a situation that doesn't go the way you’d hoped, take a few minutes to answer these questions.

Don’t just think about them. Write out or type your responses.

This reflection process is one of the most powerful tools available for letting go of the past and creating a positive attitude about the future.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Insights from an Incident with Yellow Jackets

My husband jerked up his head when he heard me shriek and saw me running towards the garage. He was getting ready to spray weed-killer in the beds, and I had been pulling out weeds close to the plants, where he couldn’t spray. I had just yanked out one that was near a small hole in the ground, which I assumed was used only by the moles that burrow endless tunnels under our yard.

But I was wrong.

Because right after I pulled that weed, a swarm of angry yellow jackets emerged from the hole. As soon as I saw them, I dropped my tools and sprinted for the garage.

Not fast enough, though.

One of those critters stung me on my thumb, through my gardening glove, and refused to let go until I plucked it off. But the damage was done and my thumb immediately started throbbing.

I scurried into the house and applied all the various treatments I’d heard of – raw onion, baking soda, ice – but none of them reduced the swelling or pain.

I’m not allergic to bee stings like my mother, thankfully. And I was grateful I didn’t get multiple stings.  But still, the discomfort persisted and I was distracted by the pain.

I was tempted to quit working in the yard right after that incident for fear of getting stung again.

But then I recognized my fear was irrational, that other parts of the yard were perfectly safe for me to work in. So I resumed my weeding in a different bed.

What happens in life…

You may not experience a physical pain like a bee sting, yet a significant setback or disappointment can create a similar reaction. You’re tempted to withdraw and avoid situations that might expose you to additional discomfort or hurt in the future.

And that can be a smart choice if there’s real danger to your well-being.

But sometimes the threat is not as great as you imagine. Your mind can conjure up all kinds of scenarios based on a single incident, and you end up over-generalizing. You assume that having a problem in this situation will be true of all future situations. You’re afraid of encountering the same type of pain going forward, so you decide that the best approach is to retreat.

This could happen in any number of areas in your life…
  • You have a negative experience with one boss or business partner and assume you can't trust any future bosses/partners. 
  • A presentation/sales call doesn’t go well and you lose your confidence. Now you’re afraid you won’t be able to convince anyone to buy your ideas or products.
  • An intimate relationship or marriage fails and you write off any possibility of establishing a positive, healthy relationship. You’re convinced that you’re destined to have relationships that turn out badly. 
What’s the solution?

When you have a bad experience, remind yourself that this one situation does not define who you are or what you’re capable of. Or what you're destined for in the future.

Remember that our brains are hard-wired from ancient times for “fight-or-flight.” But the brain has evolved, and you’re able to apply rational thinking to evaluate what’s happening and respond with logic, not emotion. You can learn to recognize when you’re applying old, outdated ideas to a new situation and make a different choice.

The key is to take time to reflect on what happened and learn from the experience. Apply those “lessons learned” to future situations so you remain open to opportunities and don’t repeat mistakes you made.

When you do this, you’re more likely to take risks because you’ll have the confidence that you can make better choices and informed decisions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Learn from Your Experiences

To learn from your experiences, it's important to reflect on what happened – for your successes and mistakes. If you don’t take this important step, you risk repeating mistakes and you may not make the most of your successes. Gaining insights from everything that happens to you will prepare you for greater positive results in the future.

What kinds of questions can you ask yourself after every important event to make sure you take away all the valuable lessons the experience has to offer?
“Good judgment comes from experience. And where does experience come from? Experience comes from bad judgment.” - Mark Twain, American novelist

“It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.” - John Wooden, American college basketball coach

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” - Helen Keller, American author

Monday, October 4, 2010

5 Questions That Help You Learn from Experience

Not long ago I was at an out-of-town conference that included an evening networking event. All of us in the room had 60 seconds to introduce ourselves and explain how our product or service could benefit the others. Even though I had given thought to what I would say, after I had my turn I wasn't pleased with what I communicated.

When I returned to my room, I was disappointed in myself. But then I remembered the five questions that Denny Coates describes in this interview. I wrote answers to each one. That process not only helped me analyze the experience. I was also able to let go of any negative feelings I had about what I did and maintain a positive attitude during the rest of the conference. If I hadn't made the effort to do that, I might have wasted valuable time replaying the scene and criticizing myself. That would have robbed me of the opportunity to focus on positive interactions with people during the rest of the event.

These are the most important questions you can ask yourself to learn from the positive and negative experiences you have in your life.

Next time you have an experience that doesn't turn out the way you'd hoped, take time to answer these five magic questions and you'll gain valuable insights that will help you in future situations.

In case you missed them, you can watch the first five videos in this interview series here:

#1 – 4 Vital Things Every Leader Must Do

#2 – Why People Usually DON’T Give Their Best Effort

#3 – Leader Skills Are NOT Enough

#4 - Leaders Learn Best ON THE JOB, Not in the Classroom 

#5 - Why Leadership Habits Take Time to Ingrain