Thursday, 10 March 2016

Making a difference

Let me make this clear, this isn't a self-help article, nor is it a new or innovative technology that will change your life for better.  I'd love to start a really cool trend, or better still something to solve some of the socio-economic issues for New Zealand or be able to solve the climate change and world peace issues.  Heck I'd settle for being able to change the culture of where I work, maybe have a positive affect on... well, something, anything eh?

Just in case you're wondering if I've forgotten to take my lithium this morning, I really haven't, but I've been grappling with a few things recently, and it reminds me of why.  Why we do what we do, why we're motivated to go to work, why we're playing sport and why we bring children into this world.  Sure, there's things like money, there's belonging, there's whanau (family to you non-Kiwi types) and friendship, but for me there's one ultimate motivator in just about everything I do; it's making a difference.

Problem is it sounds so cliched doesn't it?  Try using 'I want to make a difference' in your next job interview and you'll likely find them repulsed by your answer, but really, this is the heart of where I am and I think, and maybe hope, that it's also the resonating fact for others out there.  I go to work because it's a necessity no doubt, family is kinda counting on the income to pay things like mortgages, food, clothing and those things you could roll up and call money.  But I spoke with some of my WOL circle friends last week and we agreed it would be great if we didn't have to work for financial reasons so that we could fully help others.  We'd still work, but it wouldn't be for anything as mundane as money, it would be to help others; to make a difference.  If I didn't have to work would I? Yes, just in a slightly different way, but still money isn't really a good enough reason to do anything..

Work satisfaction for me comes down to just that single element.  If I can't make a difference I'm not sure I want to work where I'm working.  Here's the thing, I usually write around learning and learning technologies and I think making a difference links in especially powerfully here.  When I was a teacher, the subject was never the thing for me, it was the connections, it was the belief that by connecting with students I could actually have a positive influence on their life.  If I could help them to establish a scientific type mind to question things around them I felt I was making a difference (rather than the science I was actually teaching).  If what you're doing doesn't make a difference, why do it?  That's the huge demotivating factor people face in their workplaces... it's also true of so much learning material.

eLearning has great examples of non-difference making stuff.  Page turning, boring, fact stating stuff that doesn't challenge thought, doesn't make a difference.  Learning technologies are in a great position to clutch in to technological advances and leverage those to make an even greater difference.  How can we use the advances in social media, connections, wearable and affordable technology to help people shape their learning?  Not how can we turn a book into an online version and bore people in a whole new way.

This all fits with how I see learning as being pervasive and the opportunities for learning being everywhere and continuous rather than a series of planned discrete events.  I believe that what we learn shapes us as it flows around and through us - it's not a series of what I learned but how I am evolving and changing due to what I've seen, done and been learning on the way.  So for me making a difference is about shaping too, can what you do at work or in your general life help to shape that environment as well as shaping yourself along the way.

Shaping.  Maybe that's the answer if you're in an interview.  I want to be a part of shaping this and I'm happy for it to shape me on the way.... yeah, I want to make a difference.