BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 5

Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Abraham Lincoln

Character development is way an individual blends knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs into personal meaning and actions. This blending of contexts throughout life coincides with my perspective on the integration of lifelong learning and personal development. Your character should be the same when no one is looking AND when everyone is looking.  CharacterLab defines character as:

Character refers to ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that benefit others as well as ourselves. Character is plural—encompassing strengths of heart, mind, and will. Strengths of heart (such as gratitude and kindness) enable harmonious relationships with other people. Strengths of mind (such as curiosity and creativity) enable independent thinking. Strengths of will (such as grit and self-control) enable us to achieve goals.

The feature articles this month highlighted 4 of the 13 attributes CharacterLab identified as key to a strong character.

Creativity, Curiosity, Purpose, and Growth Mindset

Character is the core a person’s principles and actions revealing the mindset of values for self and society.  Lickona (1993) states that “through history, education has always had two great goals: to help people become smart and to help them become good” (p. 8). Character education is a learning process we can carry throughout our lifetime. Respect, justice, civic virtue, and responsibility for self and others should not be discarded once we leave formal education. Being a “good” person through life matters. Behaviors and actions build your reputation which creates opportunities for personal and professional development.

CharacterLabs Playbooks are guides to cultivate “strengths of heart, mind, and will.”  The 13 elements include gratitude, curiosity, grit, kindness, creativity, growth mindset, honesty, intellectual humility, self-control, purpose, proactivity, emotional intelligence, and social intelligence.

I was drawn to the playbooks of character because I can connect these elements to aspects of Blooms to Blossoms purpose.  All 13 factors align with the 7 Dimensions of Wellness.  All 13 factors require lifelong learning and contribute to personal development through how you model it, celebrate it, and enable it.  Using these 13 playbooks to guide education of students or your own growth will “cultivate strengths of heart, mind, and will”.

Feature articles can be found at CharacterLab Playbooks
**Creativity: Thinking of Novel Solutions 
**Curiosity: Wanting to Know More 
**Purpose: Commitment to Making a Meaningful Contribution
**Growth Mindset: Believing you Can Improve Your Abilities

Read more on the topic: I encourage you to select other of the 13 playbooks based on your personal interest and consider how you encourage the development of each factor for yourself and others.

I hope you take some time to review the CharacterLab Playbooks and use the Habits of the Mind (link below) to strengthen your heart, mind, and will. Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-8, 2021) is a good time to reflect on the value teachers have in promoting character and habits of the mind. Teachers make a difference!! We are all “teachers and students”…consider how you interact with others throughout your day (when and where do you “teach” and when and where do you “learn”).

More May Feature Articles include:

The 16 Habits of Mind That Make You Smarter
The habits themselves are nothing new or revolutionary. Costa and Kallick (2008) believe these habits are less on behavior but more on intent.

Read more on the topic of Habits of the Mind: Describing 16 Habits of the Mind

Stuff Happens: Time to Retune

It is a challenge to objectively evaluate how life is progressing. I often make sports analogies in my writing however I find that “evaluating” life is hard to quantify or score. My first blog this year, Intentions Rather Than Resolutions, outlined plans for the year and I made the distinction between intentions and resolutions. 

To me, New Year’s resolutions are goals we think we “should” achieve while intentions are goals, we want to achieve.  Intentions set the direction for the upcoming year.  My intentions create my plan and the desired result I wish to achieve is my goal.

One expected outcome of setting your direction (goals) for the year is to have a happy life.  Lyubomirsky’s (2010) description of happiness aligns directly with Blooms to Blossoms purpose when she says that happiness is a state positive well-being combined with a sense of a meaningful and worthwhile life.

I have found that identifying a purpose is a guide to happiness and satisfaction.  This purpose leads to relationship building and gratefulness.

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

Kahneman & Deaton (2010) research on happiness supports the idea that objectively measuring how “life is going” is not easy.  They reviewed Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI) data, which include measures of subjective well-being, from 450,000 US residents collected by the Gallup Organization.  Two aspects of subjective well-being are emotional wellness and life evaluation.

“Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant. Life evaluation refers to the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it.”

The plans we make at the new year serve as a guide as we move through each month, week, and day.  At times, a “bump in the road” will result in an unexpected ending…sometimes better, sometimes not so much.  

Last week I was thinking about a couple “intentions” I have that have not progressed as I had hoped. During this time, my husband was upstairs practicing guitar (one of his primary hobbies).  When he begins his practice the first task is to tune his guitar.  There are four types of alternate tunings (open, instrumental, regular, and special).

“Open” tuning is the most simple and common tuning to “special” tunings which are a grouping of miscellaneous tunings created in recent years.  Anyone who plays guitar knows that it is a general rule to tune your guitar every day and that the tuning is determined by the piece of music selected.

There are several reasons a guitar goes out of tune; a couple examples are:

**Old strings can keep you from that perfect tuning. As they wear, they lost their capability to hold tension, making them feel brittle and less able to hit the fret. That will make some notes to sound sharp.

**Strings are affected by extreme changes in temperature, as they will expand when it’s warm (making it sound flat) and contract when cold (resulting in a sharper sound).

Listening to my husband tune his guitar made me realize that in life we need to retune or reset…lack of progress, a bump in the road, a crossroad leading to a change does not mean the intended purpose will not be achieved…the intended purpose may merely change. Confidence in the original plan may be high but the needed change may be a blessing in disguise.  

Fader (2014) published an article on Psychology Today using “tune your guitar” as an analogy to reach happiness. 

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

“Over time, a guitar inevitably comes out of tune—not because it’s a bad guitar, but because that’s the nature of guitars. In fact, the key to maintaining a guitar is to notice when it’s not in tune and continually re-tune it…”

“Keeping a guitar well-calibrated involves a series of small tunings and re-tunings. It should be the same way with happiness: your happiness may fluctuate, it may even bottom out, but this doesn’t mean you should envision a huge insurmountable pyramid in which you need to reach the pinnacle of self-actualization for true happiness. It just means you need to adapt to your new equilibrium, to re-tune your inner guitar. That’s what happiness is—our ability to make the small but meaningful adaptations to whatever life throws at you.”

Just like guitar strings there are many reasons plans/goals go out of tune…some we can control and some we cannot.  Stuff happens.  It is time to retune and reengage.

Spending time on yourself to further your personal development is a great way to value your well-being, happiness, and success.  McGinley (2017)

Storytelling and Education: Tell Me, Show Me, Involve Me

What do you think of when you hear the word storytelling?
How do you think storytelling contributes to adult learning?

When I think of storytelling I think about sharing experiences and ideas with others in an interactive engagement.  The National Storytelling Network views storytelling as an art and states:

Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.

The mission of the National Storytelling Network (NSN) is to “advance all forms of storytelling within the community through promotion, advocacy and education.” The NSN vision expands on the mission by stating, “all people value the power of storytelling and its ability to connect, inspire, and instill respect within our hearts and communities.”

NOTE: The National Storytelling Network blog has some great articles.

Storytelling is old news.

We all enjoy a good story, and 27,000-year-old cave paintings indicate that this has probably always been the case. Oral storytelling can be traced back almost 200,000 years. Historically, stories have been used to inform, teach, entertain, form friendships, and pass down family beliefs and values. Storytelling has always been a powerful method of communication. This could be because of the brain’s knack for finding patterns.

A basic dictionary definition of learning is “the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.”  The dictionary definition does not describe “how” or by what “method” is best to acquire knowledge.  How each of us learn the best differs and I believe depending on the content the best learning style could change.  The 3 learning styles are:

Type of LearnersDescription
Visual LearnersStudents learn best when they can see/visualize the concepts. 
Auditory LearnersStudents learn best when they can hear an explanation of the concepts
Kinesthetic LearnersStudents learn best when they can actively engage with hand/bodies to experience the concept.
Individual Learning styles

Associated with the learning styles above there learning theories to consider. Keep in mind, that there is no one size fits all adult learning theory but several prevalent theories that could describe how adults learn best.  

Adult Learning TheoryDescription
AndragogyAdults use experiences to guide learning
TransformationalInspirational aha moments; thoughts and perspectives trigger learning
ExperientialAdults learn by doing

Constructivist Knowledge builds from putting meaning to experiences
Learning styles combined with use of storytelling & learning theory

Learning through storytelling actively engages adult learners in the process of knowledge acquisition.  Learning occurs by connecting meaning to the content presented. A few examples of story-based teaching techniques include case studies, role playing and autobiographical writing. Think back to teachers you’ve had in the past. Teachers who stood out as the “best” were intuitively using storytelling methods as educational tools.  I published a blog on July 22 about my first mentor Miss B.  She was a storyteller.  Learning was transformative, experiential, and what we learned built on our active participation through reading, listening and movement.

Research Supporting Storytelling 

Yackley (2007) research titled Storytelling: A Key to Adult Learning concludes that storytelling situates learners in a transformative learning experience. Using stories to improve learning costs nothing, yet it returns bountiful benefits. Adult learners remember more and what they learn becomes a part of them as they become a part of the lesson. Stories engage the mind of the learner.

Findings from the study Effectiveness of Storytelling on Adult Learning by Caminotti & Gray (2012) confirm that storytelling is effective as an adult teaching strategy.

Smith (2012) Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire discusses how storytelling is effective because it works for all types of learners.  Storytelling provides for visual learning (mental pictures), auditory learning (focus on words and voice), and kinesthetic learning (emotional connections and feelings).

D’Abate & Alpert (2017) examine storytelling as a mentoring tool in their study titled, Storytelling in Mentoring: An Exploratory, Qualitative Study of Facilitating Learning in Developmental Interactions.  The focus was on how stories can convey meaning, inspire listeners, and transmit wisdom to help students grow, learn, and develop. They conclude that storytelling is a powerful tool.

Finally, for those interested in more research, a corporate training site discusses 3 ways to use the power of storytelling along with a summary of supporting research. 

Boris (2017) article titled, What Makes Storytelling So Effective for Learning highlights and confirms the points from the prior research. The use of storytelling:

**creates a sense of connection
**builds familiarity and trust
**allows the listener to enter the story where they are
**makes students more open to learning
**enhances level of engagement
**conveys complex ideas in a simplified way

Malamed (2011) article provides a good summary of the benefits of storytelling to the educational process.

**Stories are emotional glue connects audience to message
**Stories reshape knowledge into something meaningful
**Stories make people care
**Stories are more likely to be shared
**Stories give meaning to data

Next week the idea of storytelling will switch from education perspective to a more personal perspective and expand on a prior blog published on August 26, Keepsakes & Memories.