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Are We Learning Yet?

When I was a teenager out on the farm, a stray dog wandered up and joined our other dogs. We called her Chance.

Chance was a good dog, but he had some issues. One of them was the tractor– she hated it. Chance would bark incessantly at the tractor while Dad tried to work one day. She finally got so mad she bit the tractor wheel and held on. Before Dad could stop, he'd rolled right over her head. Now, fortunately, the ground was soft where he was working, so it did no permanent damage to her, but man did it get her attention. Chance never barked at tractors ever again. Mama said, “Looks like Chance really learned her lesson.”

That's how “Learn From It” was born. Chance didn't want to blow it a second time. Last week's challenge was to “Let It Be.” Face the facts. Resist the fix. This week, we're adding a second L-step we call “Learn From It.” After we Let It Be, and face the facts of a situation without judgment or attachment, the next step is to learn from it. In our coaching methodology, “Learn from It” does not simply mean increasing our knowledge of something. For us, it means when you're ready for it, change. Simply educating someone does not guarantee change. Ask any teacher. Now, I may be about to step on a lot of people's toes here, but we believe we can only truly change that which we have control over, and we only have control over three things: our own thoughts, our own words, and our own actions. We may have some effect, maybe even some influence, on other things or people but we most certainly have no control. The life tool that we use to help exercise control over our thoughts, words and actions we call the three S's–and yes, we like stuff that all starts with the same letter–but the three s's are Systems, Strategies and Structure. Now, strategy is defined as a plan of action. The difference between a system and a strategy is that we may only use the strategy when faced with certain circumstances but maybe not in everyday life. We may have a strategy for surviving a bear attack, but we hope we'll never use it. Structure is the fixed set of accountabilities. Structure reduces the number of decision points in our life. My team fills my day with meetings and appointments. This creates structure for me. Without it, let's just say I don't get much done. This week's challenge is to take inventory of the systems strategies and structure that you already have deployed in your mind. Good luck with the challenge!

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